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The First Edition of my translation of the Gulistiin 
was published by Mr. Stephen Austin, of Hertford, 
in 1852. A new edition has been frequently called 
for, and negociations have been more than once entered 
into for re-printing it, but my time has been too 
much occupied to allow of their being brought to a 
satisfactory result. The former edition was an “ edition 
de luxe,” and the high price at which it sold put 
it out of the reach of many, who, it is hoped, will 
purchase it in its present form. The extraordinary 
popularity of the work in the East, and its intrinsic 
merits, may well lead to the expectation that it will 
find a place in all public libraries. It may be added 
that the translation has been carefully read through and 



compared with the original by an Indian gentleman, 
who is a profound Persian scholar, and possesses at 
the same time a complete mastery of English, and 
who has expressed himself satisfied with this version 
of the most famous work of the immortal Sadi. 

London, Ha y 27th, 1880. 



The Gulistan of Sadi has attained a popularity in the 
East which, perhaps, has never been reached by any 
European work in this Western world. The school-boy 
lisps out his first lessons in it; the man of learning quotes 
it; and a vast number of its expressions have become 
proverbial. When we consider, indeed, the time at which 
it was written — the first half of the thirteenth century — 
a time when gross darkness brooded over Europe, at 
least — darkness which might have been, but, alas! was 
not felt — the justness of many of its sentiments, and the 
glorious views of the Divine attributes contained in it, 
are truly remarkable. Thus, in the beginning of the 
Preface, the Unity, the unapproachable majesty, the 
omnipotence, the long-suffering, and the goodness of God, 
are nobly set forth. The vanity of worldly pursuits, and 
the true vocation of man, are everywhere insisted upon : 

“ The world, my brother ! will abide with none, 

By the world’s Maker let thy heart be won.” (p. 24.) 

In Sadi’s code of morals, mercy and charity are not 
restricted, as by some bigoted Muhammadans, to true 
believers : 



“ All Adam’s race are members of one frame ; 

Since all, at first, from tbe same essence came. 

If thou feel’st not for others’ misery, 

A son of Adam is no name for thee.” (p. 38.) 

Evil, it is said, should be requited with good, thus : 

“ Whenever then 

Thy enemy thee slanders absent, thou 
To his face applaud him.” (p. 57.) 

and : 

“ Shew kindness even to thy foes.” (p. 67.) 

See also the story of the Khallfah Harun’s son (p. 67) ; 
and of the recluse (p. 76) : 

“ The men of God’s true faith, I’ve heard. 

Grieve not the hearts e’en of their foes. 

When will this station be conferred 

On thee, who dost thy friends oppose P ” 

S&di not only preached the duty of contentment and 
resignation, but practised what he preached. In a life 
prolonged to nearly twice the ordinary period allotted 
to man, he shewed his contempt for riches, which he 
might easily have amassed, but which, when showered on 
him by the great, he devoted to pious purposes; being 
minded that : 

“The poor man’s patience better is than gold.” (p. 99.) 

Thus, when the Prime Minister of Hulaku Khan sent 
him a present of 50,000 dinars, he expended it in erecting 
a house for travellers, near Shiraz. But it will be suffi- 
cient for those who would form a just estimate of Sadi 
to peruse his works, especially the Illrd and Vlllth 



books of the Gulistan, which set forth his good sense, 
humility, and cheerful resignation to the Supreme will, 
in the clearest light. Of the history of his long and 
useful life we, unfort una tely, know but little ; and that 
little is comprised in the notice of him which is here 
subjoined from the Atish Kadah. Ross, however, with 
much diligence and acuteness, has drawn from his works 
themselves some other interesting particulars relating to 
him. It appears that his father’s name was Abdu’llah, 
and that he was descended from All, the son-in-law of 
Muhammad ; but that, nevertheless, his father held no 
higher office than some petty situation under the Dlwan. 
From Bustan, II. 2, it appears that he lost his father 
when but a child; while, from the 6th Story of the 
YIth Chapter of the Gulistan, we learn that his mother 
survived to a later period. He was educated at the 
Nizamiah College at Baghdad, where he held an Idrar, 
or fellowship (Bustan, YII. 14), and was instructed in 
science by the learned Abu’l-farj-bin-Jauzi (Gulistan, II. 
20), and in theology by Abdu’l-Kadir Gilani, with whom 
he made his first pilgrimage to Makkah. This pilgrimage 
he repeated no less than fourteen times. It is to his 
residence at Baghdad — where Arabic, as he tells us in 
the Illrd Chapter of the Gulistan, was spoken with 
great purity — that we, perhaps, owe the profusion of 
Arabic verses and sentences which are scattered through 
his works. He had, however, scarce reached his mid- 
career when that imperial city was taken and sacked by 
the Tartar Hulaku, with a prodigious massacre of the 
inhabitants; on which occasion he gave expression to 
his regrets in a Kasldah, or elegy. 

Sadi was twice married. Of his first nuptials, at 



Aleppo, we have a moat amusing account in the 31st 
Story of the Ilnd Chapter of the Gulistan. Hia enforced 
labour with a gang of Jews in the fosse of Tripolis was 
not likely to increase his good opinion of the Christian 
sect ; for it appears from that story, that his taskmasters, 
the Crusaders, had not made him prisoner in war, hut 
while practising religious austerities in the desert ; and 
he, therefore, certainly deserved more lenient treatment. 
Whatever might, however, have been S&di’s opinion of 
Christians* — and it certainly was not very favourable — 
he speaks with reverence of their Lord, as he does also 
of St. John the Baptist. Thus, in his Badlya, he says, 
“ It is the breath of Jesus, for in that fresh breath and 
verdure the dead earth is reviving : ” and, in the 
Gulistan, II. 10, we find S&dl engaged in devotion at 
the tomb of John the Baptist, of which he says — 

“ The poor, the rich, alike must here adore ; 

The wealthier they, their need is here the more.” 

where it is to be remarked that his prayers were offered 
only to the Deity ; but he knelt at the tomb, supposing, 
with other Muhammadans and Homan Catholics, that it 
was not only allowable, but salutary, to entreat the 
intercession of holy men. 

Sadi married a second time at Sanaa, the capital of 
Yaman ; and, in the Bustan, IX. 25, pours out his 
regrets for the loss of his only son. His notices of the 
female sex are, in general, not very laudatory, and his 

a Vide Chapter III. Story 21 : 

“A Christian’s well may not be pure, ’tis true, 

’Twill do to wash the carcase of a Jew.” 



opinions on this head seem to have strengthened as he 
grew in years. Ross mentions Europe, Barbary, Abyssinia, 
Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Armenia, Asia Minor, Arabia, 
Persia, Tartary, Afghanistan, and India, as the countries 
in which he travelled ; and Ksempfer, who visited Shiraz 
A.D. 1686, tells us that he had been in Egypt and Italy ; 
and that, to his knowledge of Oriental tongues, he had 
even superadded an acquaintance with Latin, and, in 
particular, had diligently studied Seneca. S&dl himself 
informs us that he was at Dihli during the reign of 
Uglamish, who died A.H. 653 = a.d. 1255, and there 
exist some verses in the Urdu dialect which he is said, but 
perhaps without much reason, to have composed. Jam! 
supposes that the beautiful youth whom S&dl encountered 
at Kashgarh, and who is mentioned in the 17th story of 
the Vth chapter of the Gulistan, 6 was the famous poet 
of Dihli, Amir Khusrau ; and it is certain that it was 
owing to the eulogies of Khusrau that Sadi was invited 
by Sultan Muhammad to Multan, where that prince 
offered to found a monastery for him. 

Sltdl seems to have spent the latter part of his life in 
retirement. He died on the evening of Friday, in the month 
of Shawwal, A.H. 690 = a.d. 1291, saysDaulat Shah, and 
was buried near Shiraz. Ksempfer, in 1686, and Colonel 
Franklin, in 1787, visited his tomb, and the latter 
mentions it as being “ just in the state it was in when 
Sadi was buried.” In person, Sadi was, as Ross conjec- 
tures, of a mean appearance, low of stature, spare and 
slim. In the picture which Colonel Franklin saw of 
him, near his tomb, he is represented as wearing the 

t Ross’s Translation. 



khirkah, or long blue gown of tbe darwesb, with a 
staff in bis band. 

Tbe great beauty of Sadi’s style is its elegant simplicity. 
In wit be is not inferior to Horace, whom be also re- 
sembles in bis “ curio sa verborum felicitas.” Of bis 
works the Gulistan may be ranked first. Tbe numerous 
translations of his writings shew that his merits have not 
been altogether unappreciated even in these Western 
regions. George Gentius has tbe credit of first making 
known to European readers tbe Gulistan, by bis “Rosarium 
Politicum,” published at Amsterdam, A.D. 1651, of which 
it is sufficient to observe that it exhibits, along with tbe 
energy, all the roughness of a pioneer. A century and a 
half elapsed between tbe appearance of this Latin trans- 
lation and the English one of Gladwin, which, though 
deserving of much commendation, is somewhat too free; 0 
as are also those of Dumoulin, published at Calcutta in 
1807, and of Lee, published in London in 1827. In 

0 Thus, at p. 53, 1. 11, of my edition of the Persian text, 
agar mustaujib-i ukubatam, is translated 

by Gladwin, “ Shouldst Thou doom me to punishment; ” and 
p. 55, 1. 14, jO ijy ^ jSscj] In kadr bas kih rui 

dwr Jchalkast, “This is sufficient with a mortal face,” which is 
very incorrect. At p. 76, 1. 10, he renders j murl, 
“to an ant,” which, as well as being incorrect, destroys the 
sense. At p. 79, 1. 18, j*jLi jjUJl ittifak ml idtam is 
rendered, “I am reflecting”! At p. 80, 1. 13, k-— -y jl 

jysP at nahlb-i bard-i ajvi, is translated by “ in the depth of 
winter.” At p. 147, 1. 10, for sud-i sarmayah-i 

umram, we find “the chief comfort of my life.” At p. 149, 
1. 10, he omits an entire line. 



1823 Mr. James Ross, a retired civilian, published a 
new translation, 4 which he dedicated, by permission, to 

4 At p. 18, 1. 12, of the Persian preface (my edition), Ross 
translates ^bxy jJ ij (Joi* nakhl landam wall nah 

dar lndctn, “ I am a gardener, hut not in a garden,” — where he 
appears to me to lose the whole pith of the sentence, viz., the 
implied comparison between the flowers of an artificial flower- 
maker and those of nature. At p. 7, 1. 16, we find jUj j J*uj 
nasi tea talar rendered, in Ross, “ The tree of their wicked- 
ness,” — where he evidently mistakes the Arabic word for the 
Persian. At p. 12, 1. 10, ^ ^ 

Sulf an ha Ioshkar kunad sarwarl is rendered, “For a king with 
an army constitutes a principality,” — which is altogether wide 
of the obvious meaning that “A king rules through his troops.” 
At 1. 17, in the same page, we find tOli jjdi 
padshahl kih (ark zulm fikanad, “ A king that can anyhow be 
accessory to tyranny,” — where the obvious meaning of 
fork, “le fondement,” as Semelet rightly translates it, is over- 
looked, though srf clearly shewn by the use of pde in the 
next line. At p. 20, 1. 4, Ross strangely mistakes tx-qlc j 
riayat for ralyat, and renders jO 

dar riayat-i mamlakat susti kardi, “was easy with the 
yeomanry in collecting revenue ” ! In the same line both he 
and Semelet wrongly translate pishin, “ancient,” 

whereas it is evident from the sequel of the story that the 
king was cotemporary with Sadi, who knew one of his soldiers, 
and the word should, therefore, be rendered “ former.” At 
p. 23, 1. 19, Ross gives a new sense to haraml, “revenue- 

embezzler.” At p. 25, 1. 16, Ross translates ^U-Jb <01 j\uJ» 
Jcx Ox XiZxst j musharun ilaihi b'ilbanan tea mutamad 
alaihi andu'l-aiyan, “ Towards whom all turned for counsel, 
and upon whom all eyes rested their hope,” — which does not 



the Chairman and Court of Directors of the East India 
Company, and which he especially informs us was in- 

contain a single word of the original, for even aiy&n 

cannot here be rendered “eyes.” In the last line of the same 
page, Ross renders ijJH tarlkl, “ Chaos,” completely and 
most gratuitously destroying the beautiful metaphor. At p. 28, 
1. 20, we have a tolerable instance of a free translation ; L>j*^ 
«X«I jJoJCmuJ jjjl hdkim-rd In rukhan pasandldah Umad, 

“When the prince heard this sentiment he subscribed to its 
omnipotence ” ! The two first lines in p. 29 are sadly mis- 

Chu kabah kiblah-i hdjat shud a% diyar-i laid, 

Rawand khalk ba-dlddrash an basl far sang. 

which he renders thus, “ When the fane of the Cablah at 
Mecca became their object from a far-distant land, pilgrims 
would hurry on to visit it from many farsangs.” The K&bah 
it is needless to remark, is the Black Temple at Mecca, 
and the Kiblah is the place to which people turn in prayer. 
<tLi Kiblah, therefore, should here be taken with hdjat, 
with which it is connected by an izdfah, and the Juju jUj j] 
a% diyar-i bald as evidently belongs to Sj,j rawand, from which 
it should not be separated by a stop. At p. 31, 1. 7, 8, the 
couplet is bo translated as to become quite unmeaning. At 
p. 32, 1. 13, Ross translates jj 

malik bar an lathkan khishm girift, “The sovereign let loose 
the army of his wrath ” — a mistake which it is hardly possible 
to imagine a mere beginner would make. Gladwin rightly 
translates the sentence in his curt, free manner, “ the king 



tended to be literal, and thereby useful to the Students 
of the East India College. He prefixed to it a very 

being displeased ; ” and Semelet, who reads bar- u for j 
i_£j£uJ bar an lathkarl, renders it “le roi se met en col&re contre 
lui.” At p. 34, 1. 6, £ pXj J\ 

hamchundn dar fikr-i an baitam kih guff, where <."-0 baitam is 
for bait hastam, as Gladwin and Semelet rightly 

take it, whereas Ross renders it “ applicable to which is that 
stanza of mine.” At p. 38, 1. 7, Ross renders ba-haif 

“at a low price,” instead of “by force,” and he also mistakes 
the sense of ^laJ ba-farh. At p. 41, 1. 10, ju <t >- J t 

garchich ntmat ba-far-i daulat-i ust, is translated, 
“Though it be for their benefit that hiB glory is exalted” — a 
sense which can in no way be extracted from the words. At 
p. 41, 1. 13, Ross renders S-JmssT j' L»lr* 

marird at bandagan ba-tigdhl bakhahld, “ he forced her upon a 
negro,” a strange sense of bakhshldan. At p. 63, 

1. 10, Ross translates La»- hasa, in defiance of the dictionary 
and of the other translations, “the black stone,” instead of 
“pebbles,” as Gladwin rightly renders it. In the next line he 
translates ■ muataujib, “doomed,” for “deserving.” 

At p. 66, 1. 14, he translates rul dar khalkast, 

“this much is sufficient that it has a threadbare hood!” — a 
translation so amazing that one must suppose he read the 
passage differently, though it stands so in Gentius, whose text 
he professed to follow. At p. 67, 1. 16, Ross has evidently 
misunderstood the sentence, Jj! ii ehltl na 

kardl kih bakar dyad, — which he renders, “that nothing be 
omitted that can serve a purpose.” At p. 61, 1. 10, Ross gives 
a ridiculous version of jO ^*Jusr* khamdn-i majlis 

iarjdah, “ and the rawest of the assembly bubbled in unison.” 



valuable essay on the works and character of Sadi ; 
but, of his Translation, I regret to say that I cannot 
speak in terms of unqualified praise. In 1828, M. 
Semelet published the Persian text of the Guliatan in 
Paris, and six years afterwards, a most excellent Trans- 
lation, to which the first place must undoubtedly be 
assigned;® while Gladwin’s version occupies the second; 
that of Ross, the third ; and that of Gentius, the fourth. 

At p. 64, 1. 7, b j tor o pa barahnah is rendered, 

“naked from head to foot,” instead of “with hare head and 
feet.” At p. 64, 1. 15, Ross translates ba-bdllnash, 

“to his Her," instead of “pillow.” At p. 69, 1. 2, 

L-jJll* ba-dast-i in mu(rib is rendered, “ in the hand of this 
minstrel,” instead of “by means of this musician.” At p. 74, 
1. 7, Ross translates c-Jj-A hubub, “ zephyr”! and, at p. 76, 1. 3, 
hani-a, “immense;” and 1. 9, gur, “an elk.” At 
p. 95, 1. 8, Ross renders ^Jui gaff, “group.” At p. 102, 1. 6, 
Jlj-i taarruz-i sual, “ prostitution of begging.” At 

p. 109, 1. 18, JjJb 1^1^ gaddl haul is rendered, “an impor- 
tunate mendicant.” At p. 178, 1. 14, J\jS\ <Ui! lukmah-i 

idrar farushand is rendered, “ that they may entitle themselves 
to the bread of charity,” At least ten times this number of 
inaccuracies might have been noticed, but these will he sufficient 
to shew how unsafe a guide Ross proves himself as a translator. 

e I have found hut very few passages in which it appears to 
me that M. Semelet has failed to give the sense of the original. 
One is in Chap. I. (p. 4, 1. 13), where he renders sari, 
“ le premier ; ” and line 17 of the same page, where 
durushtl, is rendered “la masse.” At p. 84, 1. 7, he renders 
“un gardien de chameaux.” At p. 162, 1. 14, falah, 
is translated “ le paysan.” There are some other inadvertencies, 
which will he found referred to in the notes. 


For the publication of the present Translation, the 
only apology that seems requisite is the fact that those 
of Gladwin and Ross have long been out of print. 
Moreover, if the Eastern saying be true that 

Sail jA har lafz-i Sadi, 
jO j jliia haftad tea du mani. 

“Each word of Sadi has seventy-two meanings,” there 
is room for a septuagint of translators. There is, how- 
ever, another ground on which the Translation now 
offered to the public may claim notice, that it is, I 
believe, the first attempt, on anything like an exten- 
sive f scale, to render Persian poetry into English verse. 
Ross, in his Introductory Essay, asserts, in the words of 
Cowper, that “ it is impossible to give, in rhyme, a just 
translation of any ancient poetry of Greece or Rome, 
and still less (here he means “still more” impossible) 
of Arabic and Persian.” It will be for the Oriental 
scholar to judge how far I have departed from the true 
meaning of the original in putting it into English verse. 
For myself, I can only say I have not knowingly allowed 
myself any license except on very few occasions, on each 
of which I have excused myself in a note. I have also 
endeavoured to make the metre correspond in some 
degree to that of the Persian, and I have uniformly 

f Atkinson has published some spirited versions extracted 
from the Shah-namah ; but I speak here of a continuous work. 

I do not mention Miss Costello’s “ Rose Garden of Persia,” 
which is merely a translation from the French, and exhibits 
about as much of the originals as Moore’s “Lalla Rookh,” that 
is, nothing but a certain Oriental tone and gilding. 



done my best to preserve the play upon words which 
occurs so often, and which is accounted such a beauty 
in the East. 

I have only further to add that, to mark the Arabic 
passages, italics have been adopted ; and that where I 
have had occasion to insert any explanation, the words 
employed are enclosed in brackets. 


Haiibtbvbt Colleob, 

October let, 1852. 


Shekh Muslihu’d-dTn, sumamed Sadi, is the most 
eloquent of writers, and the wittiest author of either 
modern or ancient times, and one of the four monarchs 
of eloquence and style. In the opinion of this humble 
individual (the author of the Atish Kadah) no one has 
appeared since the first rise of Persian Poetry who can 
claim a superior place to Firdausi of Tus, Nizami of 
Kum, Anwarl of Ahlward, and Shekh Sadi. In short, 
all I could say of the qualities which adorned his mind 
and heart, and of his perfections, displayed and secret, 
would not amount to the thousandth part of the reality, 
or he more than a trifling indication of the whole. In 
accordance with this, my master, the august and felicitous 
Mir Saiyid All Mushtak, used to call Sadi the “Nightingale 
of a Thousand Songs,” intending to express that in every 
branch of poetry he displayed the perfection of genius. 
In a word, I used to busy myself with reflecting, whether 
in the revolutions of Time there had ever been a period, 
when men of learning were more lightly esteemed than at 
present ; or, with reference to the want of appreciation 
evinced by the generation in which we live, whether 
hards were ever more undervalued than now ? until I saw 




it mentioned in a Biography that a number of Poets once 
questioned Muhammad Hamkar (Praise be to God ! the 
like of him does not exist in these days) as to the com- 
parative excellence of Sadi and Imam! of Herat. He 
answered them with this verse, 

“ Not to Imami’s strain, 

Can I or Sadi e’er attain !” 

On reading this, I returned thanks to God that this age 
is guiltless of such folly as this. Men of sense will be 
alive to the disgraceful injustice of such a sentence, 
though as to himself Muhammad Hamkar pronounced 
rightly. It is quite true that Imam! is a far superior 
poet to the author of the verse quoted above, but there 
is not the shadow of a pretence for comparing him with 
the illustrious Sadi, nor is there a single person save 
the three great poets whose names are given above, 
who can be placed in the same rank. With relation to 
the preceding anecdote a stanza occurred to me as I 
was composing the life of Sadi, which perhaps is not 
altogether devoid of point, and which I will here set 

One said, “ The palm of merit has been given 

To Imam of Herat, o’er Sadi, by 
Muhammad Hamkar; — what think’st thou?” “Good 
Heaven ! 

How much does Hamkar* herein err ! ” said I. 

Sadi is said to have been a disciple of Shekh Shaha- 

* There is a play on the words “ Hamkar ” and 
sitamkar, “unjust,” which cannot be preserved in English. 



bu’d-din ; and Daulat Shah* writes that he lived to the 
age of one hundred and twenty years ; and that after 
his tenth year he spent thirty years in various countries 
in acquiring learning, and thirty years more in travelling 
and making himself practically acquainted with things, 
and thirty years more in the environs of Shiraz, in a 
spot which for beauty equals the Garden of Paradise; 
where men of learning and eminence resorted to him, 
and where he employed himself in devotion. Here he 
was supplied with delicious viands by his disciples, and 
it was his wont after satisfying his hunger to wrap 
up what was left and suspend it in a basket, and the 
wood-cutters who used to cut bushes in the neighbour- 
hood of Shiraz took these fragments away. One day, 
a person, by way of experiment, disguised himself as a 
wood-cutter and went to the place where the fragments 
were. On reaching towards them, his arm became stiff 
and remained stretched out. He cried out, “ O Shekh ! 
come to my aid ! ” Sadi replied, “ If this be the dress 
of a bush-cutter, where are the scars on thy hands and 
feet ? or if thou art a robber, where is thy strong arm 
and firm heart that without a wound or pain thou makest 
these outcries ? ” He then prayed for him and the man 
was healed. 

They also relate that a devout person of Shiraz saw 
in a dream that the angels in heaven were moved, and 
that the cherubs were singing softly the poetry of 
Shekh Sadi, and said that “ this couplet of S&di is worth 
the praises and hymns of angel-worship for a whole 

b The name of the author of a celebrated Biography of 
Learned Men. 


year.” When he awoke, he went to Sad! and found 
him with ecstatic fervour reciting this couplet, 

To pious minds each verdant leaf displays, 

A volume teeming with th’ Almighty’s praise. 

The devotee related to Sad! the vision before mentioned, 
and besought him to pray in his behalf. 

The repartees of Sadi are numberless; nor is it 
requisite to recount what is known to all. Once in his 
travels he arrived at Tabriz, where he learnt on inquiry 
after Khwajah Ham am, 0 that he had a son of great 
beauty and accomplishments ; and that he guarded him 
from acquaintance with strangers with the most scru- 
pulous care, insomuch that he took him to the private 
baths. Sadi went to the bath on the day that the 
Khwajah had fixed to come, and concealed himself in 
a comer until he arrived with his son ; when laying 
aside his mantle, he stepped in. Khwajah was dis- 
pleased when he saw him, and seating his son behind 
him, he asked Sadi, whence he came? and what was 
his profession? Sadi replied that he came from the 
fair land of Shiraz ; and that he was a poet. Khw ajah 
said, “Holy God! in this country the men of Shiraz 
are more plentiful than dogs ! ” “It is just the reverse 
in my country,” replied Sadi, “for there the men of 
Tabriz are less 15 than dogs.” There happened to be 
there a vessel of water. Khwajah said, “It is strange, 

0 Name of a famous poet. 

“ The wit lies in the double sense of kamtar, which 
means “fewer” — answering to j bishtar — “more numerous,” 

and also “inferior.” 


the people of Shiraz are bald-headed like the bottom 
of this vessel.’' “Stranger still,” replied Sadi, turning 
up the cup, “the heads of the people of Tabriz are 
as empty as the mouth® of this.” “Prithee,” rejoined 
Khwajah with a discomfited look, “Do they ever 
quote the poems of Hamam in Shiraz?” “Yes,” 
answered Sadi, and he then repeated this concluding 
verse of one of Hamam’s odes, 

“ Hamam divides f me from my love — one day 
That veil, I hope, will be removed away.” 

Khwfijah said, “ I conjecture that thou art She kh SMI P 
for to no one else belongs such quickness.” SMI 
answered in the affirmative ; on which Khwajah kissed 
Ms hand, and made his son pay his respects, and took 
his illustrious visitor home with him, where he showed 
him every attention for some time — “ Would that I too 
had been with them ! ” * 

I have repeatedly perused the writings of this poet, 
whose whole works deserve to be transcribed here. 
Some extracts, however, of his elegies, odes, didactic 
poems and facetiae, which appear to me to possess the 
most perfect beauty, are all that I am able to extract; 
and I shall quote this one passage from his prose writings, 

• I have changed this repartee a little, at the risk of losing 
somewhat of its point. 

' Hamam was sitting between his son and SSdl. In the 
original sense, a Suflistic one, a veil is said to be between 
Hamam and his beloved one, i.e. God. 

* This is an exclamation of the author, and is to be found in 
the Kur’an. 



though I have not admitted any other prose extract from 
any writer into this book : 

“They asked a philosopher, ‘Who should be called 
fortunate, and who unfortunate?’ He replied, ‘He is 
to be called fortunate, who sowed and reaped; and he 
must be reckoned unfortunate, who died and left [what 
he possessed without enjoying it.]’ ” 

The rest of his sayings, full of wisdom as they are, 
must be sought in the Gulistan, to which the reader is 

Sadi flourished in the reign of Sid Atabak, whence 
his name of SidI, and he died in Shiraz, in the year 
691 A.H. (This is the date according to D’Herbelot, 
but according to Daulat Sh&h, 690, see p. xi.) 



1 to 6. — Hisalah ; or Treatise. 

7. — Gulistan. 

8. — Bustan. 

9. — Arabian Kasaids. 

10. — Persian Kasaids. 

11. — Maras! ; or Dirges. 

12. — Mixed Poems, Persian and Arabic. 

13. — Poems, with recurring lines. 

14. — Plain Ghazals. 

15. — Rhetorical Ghazals. 

16. — Works written in later life. 

17. — Writings in earlier life. 

18. — Poems addressed to Shamsu’d-dln. 
19 — Fragments. 

20. — Facetiae. 

21. — Tetrastichs. 

22. — Distichs. 

I boast not the stock of my own excellence ; 

But hold forth my hand, like a beggar, for pence. 
I have heard in the day of hope and of fear,* 
God’s mercy the good and the sinner will spare : 

If thou, too, herein seest faults, be it thine 
Like thy Maker to act ; like Him be benign. 

BUstdn of Sadi. 

That is, in the day of resurrection. 



Praise be to God ! (May be be honoured and glorified !) 
whose worship is the means of drawing closer to Him, 
and in giving thanks to whom is involved an increase 
of benefits. Every breath which is inhaled prolongs life, 
and when respired exhilarates the frame. In every breath 
therefore two blessings are contained, and for every 
blessing a separate thanksgiving is due. 


Whose hands suffice ? whose voices may 
The tribute of His praises pay ? 

0 ! ye of David’s line ! His praises sing, 1 
Far few are grateful found to him [their King.] 

Best for the slave his fault to own, 

And seek for pardon at God’s throne : 

For none can hope to pay aright 
A homage worthy of his might. 

The raindrops of his mercy, shed 
On all, descend unlimited, 

His bounteous store for all is spread. 

Dark though their sins may be, He does not rend 
The veil that clokes His creatures’ shame ; 

Hor stays His bounty, though they oft offend, 

[But aye continueth the same.] 

1 This is a quotation from the Kur’an ; Chap, xxxiv., v. 12. 





All-Gracious One ! who, from Thy hidden store, 

On Guebre 2 dost, and Pagan, alma bestow ! 

When will Thy mercies crown Thy friends no more ? 
Thou, who with love regardest e’en Thy foe ! 

He biddeth His chamberlain, the morning breeze, 
spread out the emerald carpet [of the earth,] and 
commandeth His nurses, the vernal clouds, to foster in 
earth’s cradle the tender herbage, [lit., “the daughters 
of the grass”] and clotheth the trees with a garment 
of green leaves, and at the approach of spring crowneth 
the young branches with wreaths of blossoms; and by 
His power the juice of the cane become th exquisite 
honey, and the date-seed, by His nurture, a lofty tree. 


Cloud and wind, and sun and sky, 

Labour all harmoniously, 

That while they thee with food supply, 

Thou mayst not eat unthankfully . 3 
Since all are busied and intent for thee, 

Justice forbids that thou a rebel be. 

It is a tradition of the Chief of Created Beings, and 
the Most Glorious of Existences, the Mercy 4 of the 
Universe, the Purest of Mankind, and the Complement 
of Time’s Circle, Muhammad Mustafa (On whom be 
blessing and peace !) 


Gracious Prophet ! intercessor ! worthy of obedience, thou ! 
Beautiful, of mien majestic, comely, and of smiling brow. 

2 Byron has Anglicised the word “ Guebre,” and it seems 
more euphonious than jJs Gabar, or Moore’s “ Gheber.” 

3 i j-Aw ba-ghfljUit na-kh’url, “thou shouldst not eat 
carelessly,” or according to Gladwin, “ in neglect.” This must 
mean “ carelessly with reference to God,” i.e. “unthankfully.” 

* That is, “ means of obtaining mercy from God for all 




To the wall of the faithful what sorrow, when pillared 
[securely] on thee ? 

What terror where Nuh 5 is the pilot, though rages the 
storm- driven sea ? 


All perfect he, and therefore won 
His lofty place, and [like a sun] 

His beauty lighted up the night. 

Fair are his virtues all, and bright. 

Let peace and benediction be 
On him and his posterity ! 

[The tradition is] that whenever one of his sinful 
servants in affliction lifteth up the hands of penitence in 
the court of the. glorious and Most High God, in the hope 
of being heard ; the Most High God regardeth him not ; 
again he supplicateth Him, again God tumeth from him ; 
again humbly and piteously he beseecheth Him ; [then] 
God Most High (Praise be to Him !) saith, “ 0 my angels, 
verily I am ashamed by reason of my servant, and he hath 
no God but myself ; therefore of a surety I pardon him," 6 
that is to say, “I have answered his prayer and accom- 
plished his desire, since I am ashamed because of his 
much entreaty and supplication.” 


God’s condescension and his mercy see ! 

Has servant sinneth, and ashamed is He ! 

The devout dwellers at the temple of His glory confess 
the faultiness of their worship saying, “ We have not 
worshipped Thee as Thou oughtest to be worshipped /” and 
those who would describe the appearance of His beauty 
are amazed and say, “ We have not known Thee as Thou 
oughtest to be known." 

5 Nub is the Oriental form of the name of the Prophet Noah. 

4 These words being in Arabic, an explanation of them is 
afterwards given in Persian, introduced by “ that is to say.” 




If one His praise of me would learn, 

What of the traceless can the tongueless tell ? 
Lovers 7 are killed by those they love so well ; 

No voices from the slain return. 


A devout personage had bowed his head on the breast 
of contemplation, and was immersed in the ocean of the 
divine presence. When he came back to himself from 
that state, one of his companions sportively asked him — 
“ From that flower-garden where thou wast, what mira- 
culous gift hast thou brought for us ? ” He replied, “ I 
intended to fill my lap as soon as I should reach the 
rose-trees, and bring presents for my companions. When 
I arrived there the fragrance of the roses so intoxicated 
me that the skirt of my robe slipped from my hands.” 


0 bird of mom ! 8 love of the moth be taught ; 
Consumed it dies nor utters e’en a cry ! 

Pretended searchers ! of this true love nought 
Know ye, — who know tell not their mystery. 

0 loftier than all thought, 

Conception, fancy, or surmise ! 

1 The soul and the Deity are often, by Oriental writers, 
imaged by the lover and his beloved one. 

B The nightingale is so called as singing in the morning 
twilight. Gladwin reads jS.* ^1 at murgh-i sahr, and 

translates, “ 0 bird of the desert ! ” and in my edition of the 
Text I unfortunately retained this reading, which, however, 
I now think incorrect, and prefer reading with M. Semelet, 
jjsr 1 at mwgh-i sahar, “0 bird of the morning!” 

The comparison is this, that as the nightingale, for all its 
warblings, is not so true a lover as the moth, which perishes 
in the brilliance it adores without a sigh ; so the truly devout 
are not those who speak of their devotion, but those who are 
wrapt into silent ecstacy. 



All vainly Thou art sought, 

[Too high for feeble man’s emprise.] 

Past is our festive day , 9 
And reached at length life’s latest span ; 

Thy dues are yet to pay, 

The firstlings of Thy praise by man. 


The fair report of Sadi, which is celebrated by the 
general 12 voice ; and the fame of his sayings, which has 
travelled the whole surface 13 of the earth; and the loved 
reed , 14 which imparts his discourse, and which they devour 
like honey ; and the manner in which men carry off the 
scraps of his writing, as though they were gold leaf 15 — 
are not to be ascribed to the perfection of his own 
excellence or eloquence, but [to this, that] the Lord of 

9 Life is finely compared by Oriental writers to an enter- 
tainment which is succeeded by the darkness and silence of 

10 Gladwin has a different reading, where the benediction 
refers to the king, “ may God perpetuate his reign !” 

h Bin signifies “ son of.” 

12 Literally, “which has fallen into the mouths of the common 
people.” So the Latin “volitare per ora virfim.” 

13 Richardson’s Dictionary makes kw bast( an adjective 
only, but in this passage it is evidently a substantive. 

u The Oriental jJJ kalam (calamus) or pen is, as every one 
knows, a reed. Tnis leads to various poetical fantasies. Thus 
Maulavl Rum!, 

“Hear the reed’s complaining wail! 

Hear it tell its mournful tale ! 

Tom from the spot it loved so well, 

Its grief, its sighs our tears compel.” 

15 This expression may also mean “ bills of exchange.” 
Gladwin so translates it. Others think it means a diploma of 
honour, amongst whom is M. Semelet. 



the Earth, the Axis of the Revolution of Time, the 
Successor of Sulaiman, the Defender of the People of the 
True Faith, the Puissant King of Kings, the Great 
Atabak 16 Muzaffaru'd-dln Abu-bakr-bin-Sad-bin-Zangl, 
God’s shadow on earth ( 0 God ! approve him and his 
desires !) has regarded him with extreme condescension 
and bestowed on him lavish commendation, and evinced a 
sincere regard for him. Of a verity, from attachment 
to him, all people, both high and low, have become 
favourably inclined towards me, since men adopt the 
sentiments of their kings. 11 


Since to my lowliness thou didst with favour turn, 

My track is clearer than the sun’s bright beam. 

Though in thy servant all might every fault discern ; 
When kings approve, e’en vices virtues seem. 


’Twas in the bath, a piece of perfumed clay 
Came from my loved one’s hands to mine, one day. 
“Art thou then musk or ambergris?” I said; 

“ That by thy scent my soul is ravished ? ” 

“ Not so,” it answered, “ worthless earth was I, 

But long I kept the rose’s company ; 

Thus near, its perfect fragrance to me came, 

Else I’m but earth, the worthless and the same.” 18 

Atabak is a Turkish word signifying “father of 
the prince.” It was originally applied to a prime minister or 
great noble of state. It afterwards became the title of a 
dynasty of Persian kings, originally Turkumans, who reigned 
from 1148 to 1264 A.D. To the sixth of these, S&d-bin-Zangl, 
S&dl dedicates his “ Gulistan.” He reigned thirty-five years, 
and died A.D. 1259. 

17 A quotation from the Kur’an. 

“ By this simile, which in the original is of exquisite beauty, 
S&dT would express his own unworthiness, and the estimation 
imparted to him by the King’s favour. 



Lord ! for the Faithful’s sake his life renew, 

Double the guerdon to his virtues due, 

Exalt his friends’, his nobles’ dignity, 

And those destroy , who hate him or defy ; 

As in the Kur’dn’s verse, Thy will be done, 

Protect, 0 Qod ! his kingdom and his son. 


Happy in truth the world through him — may he 
Be happy ! and may Heaven-sent victory, 

Like a proud banner, him o’ercanopy ! 

He is the root, then may the tree be blest ! 19 
Fairest are aye the plants whose seed is best. 

May the most High and Holy God preserve to the day 
of resurrection the fair territory of Shiraz in the security 
of peace through the awe inspired by its just rulers, and 
the magnanimous spirit of its sagacious superintendents ! 


Knowest thou not in distant lands, 

Why I made a long delay ? 

I, through fear of Turkish bands, 

Left my home and fled away. 

Earth was ravelled by those bands 
Like an JEthiop’s hair ; and they, 
Slaughter-seeking, stretched their hands, 

Human wolves, towards the prey. 

Men like angels dwelt within , 20 
Lion- warriors roamed around. 

Back I came, how changed the scene ! 

Nought but peacefulness I found : 

Tigers though they late had been, 

Changed their fierceness, fettered, bound. 

19 The State is here compared to a tree, of which the 
King is the root. 

*° “ Within,” in the city of Shiraz, then one of the 
most populous on earth. The surrounding districts were 
suffering from an irruption of savage Turks. 



Thus in former times I saw, 

Filled with tumult, trouble, pain, 

Earth uncurbed by rule or law. 

But strife owned our monarch’s reign. 

Heard Atabak’s name with awe, 

Heard, and all was peace again .* 1 

The clime of Far s 23 dreads not Time’s baneful hand, 
While one like thee, God’s Shadow, rules the land. 
None at this day can shew on earth’s wide breast, 

A haven, like thy gate, of peace and rest. 

’Tis thine to guard the poor : a grateful sense 
Is due from us — from God thy recompense. 

Lord ! shield the land of Ears from faction’s storm, 
Long as winds blow, or earth retains its form. 


One night I was reflecting on times gone by and 
regretting my wasted life; and I pierced the stony 
mansion of my heart with the diamond of my tears, 
and recited these couplets applicable to my state. 

One breath of life each moment flies, 

A small remainder meets my eyes. 

Sleeper ! whose fifty years are gone, 

Be these five 23 days at least thy own. 

Shame on the dull, departed dead, 

Whose .task is left unfinished ; 

81 I have been obliged to render these last three lines very 
freely. There is in them, however, nothing to delay the 

” Fare is that province of Persia of which Shiraz is the 

n This is an indefinite number, used to express any short 



In vain for them the drum was beat, 

Which warns us of man’s last retreat. 

Sweet sleep upon the parting-day ® 4 
Holds back the traveller from the way. 

Each comer a new house erects, 

Departs, — the house its lord rejects. 

The next one forms the same conceit ; 

This mansion none shall ere complete. 

Hold not as friend this comrade light, 

With one so false no friendship plight. 

Since good and bad alike must fall, 

He’s blest who bears away the ball .® 5 
Send to thy tomb an ample store ;®* 

None will it bring — then send before. 

Like snow is life in July’s sun, 

Little remains ; and is there one 
To boast himself and vaunt thereon P ® 7 
With empty hand thou hast sought the mart ; 

I fear thou wilt with thy turban part .® 8 
Who eat their com while yet ’tis green, 

At the true harvest can but glean. 

To Sadi’s counsel let thy soul give heed, 

This is the way — be manful and proceed. 

M These verses may seem unconnected, but they are not 
more so than in the original ; the rendering is most close. 

** This is an allusion to the game of chaugan, which is a 
sort ' o£ tennis played on horseback. He who bears off the 
ball is the winner. 

M Of good deeds — which are here compared to the provisions 
for a journey. 

v This is somewhat freely translated. Gladwin reads Jyifc 
ghirah hanus, and translates, “Art thou yet slothful?” I 
prefer reading jyjfc jji j tea khw’djah gharrah hands ; 

— literally “ and my gentleman is still boastful.” 

“ “Thou hast” and “thou wilt” must be here read, for 
the sake of the metre, as one syllable. It is frequently 
impossible to avoid stiffness and other faults in the versification, 
that the literal translation may be preserved. 



After deliberating on this subject I thought it advisable 
that I should take my seat in retirement and gather under 
me my robe, withdrawing from society, and wash the tablet 
of my memory from vain words, nor speak idly in future. 


Better who sits in nooks, deaf, speechless, idle, 

Than he who knows not his own tongue to bridle. 

At length one of my friends who was my comrade 
in the camel-litter 2 ® and my closet- companion 30 entered 
my door according to old custom. Notwithstanding all 
the cheerfulness and hilarity which he displayed, and 
his spreading out the carpet of affection, I returned 
him no answer, nor lifted up my head from the knee 
of devotion. He was pained, and looking towards me said, 


Now that the power of utterance is thine, 

Speak, 0 my brother ! kindly, happily. 
To-morrow’s message bids thee life resign, 

Then art thou silent of necessity. 

One of those attached to me [t.e., a kinsman or a 
servant] informed him regarding this circumstance, 
saying, “Such an one [i.e., Sadi] has made a resolution 
and fixed determination to pass the rest of his life in 
the world as a devotee, and embrace silence. If thou 
canst, take thy way, and choose the path of retreat. 31 

a The hajawah is nothing more than two panniers 

slung one on each side a camel, and each containing a traveller ; 
who of course would prefer a friend as his vis-d-vis in such a 
situation. The expression then means simply a comrade in travel. 

" As we should say “ a bosom-friend.” 

* l Gladwin understands this as an exhortation to adopt a 
similar abnegation of the world. I c ann ot agree with this 
opinion, and think that the speaker simply desired S&dl’s 
friend to withdraw if he could make up his mind to leave 
him p\ agar “if thou art able ”). 



He replied, “ By the glory of the Highest, and by our 
ancient friendship ! I will not breathe nor stir a step 
until he hath spoken according to his wonted custom, 
and in his usual manner : for to distress friends is folly, 
but the expiation of an oath is easy . 33 It is contrary 
to rational procedure and opposed to the opinion of 
sages, that the Zu’l-fakar” of All should remain in its 
scabbard, or the tongue of Sadi [silent] in his mouth. 


What is the tongue in mouth of mortals ? — say ! 

’Tis but the key that opens wisdom’s door : 

While that is closed who may conjecture, — pray ? 

If thou sell’st jewels or the pedlar’s store ? 


Silence is mannerly, so deem the wise, 

But in the fitting time use language free ; 

Blindness of judgment just in two things lies, 

To speak unwished, not speak unseasonably. 

In brief, I had not the power to refrain from con- 
versing with him, and I thought it uncourteous to avert 
my face from conference with him, for he was an 
agreeable companion and a sincere friend. 


When thou contendest, choose an enemy 34 

Whom thou mayst vanquish or whom thou canst fly. 

13 The non-observance of a rash oath is expiated by fasting 
three days, or by feeding and clothing ten poor persons, or 
by setting one captive free. 

33 Zu’l-fakar was the name of a two-edged sword which 
Muhammad pretended to have received from the Angel Gabriel ; 
and which he bequeathed to his son-in-law All. The author 
of the Ifamus says that it was the sword of As-bin-Munabbih, 
an unbeliever, who was slain at the battle of Badr. 

34 In these lines lie some difficulties well descanted on by 
M. Semelet, but which require but a word here. The words 

jj dor *iti% may be translated “in strife,” in which case 



By the mandate of necessity I spoke, and we went 
out for recreation, it being the season of spring, when 
the asperity of winter was mitigated, and the time of 
the roses’ rich display had arrived. 


Vestments green upon the trees 

Like the [costly] garments seeming, 

Which at Id’s festivities 

Bich men wear [all gaily gleaming.] 


’Twas TJrdabihisht’s first day, the Jalalian 53 month of 

From the pulpits of the branches slight we heard the 
bulbuls 38 sing 

The red red branches were be-gemmed with pearls of 
glistening dew, 

Like moisture on an angry beauty’s cheek, a cheek of 
rosy hue. 

[So time passed] till one night 37 it happened that I 
was walking at a late hour in a flower-garden with one 
of my friends . 37 The spot was blithe and pleasing, and 

supply [ ^j babln before the next line ; or spite of the 
dictionaries, those words may perhaps mean “try for one,” 
“ choose,” in which case there is no ellipse. jjS gu%ir can 
hardly mean “aid,” here — the “du secours” of M. de Sacy ; 
but rather “a means of success,” the tj\»- charah of Castell. 

35 Jalalu’d-dln, King of Persia, began to reign A.H. 475 — 
1082 A.D. His sera dates from that year. XJrdabihisht is 
the second month of the Jalalian year, and corresponds with 
our April. 

“ The bulbul, it is almost unnecessary to say, is the 

31 I must confess that I think the sense would be greatly im- 
proved if we could get rid of j\ ^Li U Id yah at duttan, 

and read 1 --*■ ehab-rd for b td shabi, in which case it 
would be the same friend who persuaded S&dl to give up his 



the trees intertwined there charmingly. You would have 
said that fragments of enamel were sprinkled on the 
ground, and that the necklace of the Pleiades was sus- 
pended from the vines that grew there. 


A garden where the murmuring rill was heard; 

While from the trees sang each melodious bird; 

That, with the many-coloured tulip bright, 

These, with their various fruits the eye delight. 

The whispering breeze beneath the branches’ shade, 
Of bending flowers a motley carpet made. 

In the morning, when the inclination to return pre- 
vailed over our wish to stay, 38 1 saw that he had gathered 
his lap full of roses, and fragrant herbs, and hyacinths, 
and sweet basil, [with which] he was setting out for 
the city. I said, “ To the rose of the flower-garden 
there is, as you know, no continuance ; nor is there 
faith in the promise 39 of the rose garden : and the sages 
have said that we should not fix our affections on that 
which has no endurance.” He said, “What then is my 
course ?” I replied, “ For the recreation of the beholders 
and the gratification of those who are present, I am 
able to compose a book, ‘ the Garden of Roses,’ whose 
leaves the rude hand of the blast of autumn cannot 
affect ; and the blitheness of whose spring the revolution 
of time cannot change into the disorder of the waning 

taciturnity, that walked with him at night, and received the 
promise of the “ Gulistan.” 

“ Every line of S&dT is said to have j haftad 

wa du manl, “ seventy-two meanings,” and this sentence may 
fairly be thought to have a different meaning from the one 
given in the text. It may he rendered, “ the desire to return, 
in order to repose, prevailed with us.” 

" I prefer translating Oyi ahd thus. Gladwin translates it 
“ continuance ; ” and M. Semelet renders it by “la saison.” 




What use to thee that flower- vase of thine ? 

Thou would’ st have rose-leaves; take then, rather, mine. 

Those roses but five days or six will bloom ; 

This garden ne’er will yield to winter’s gloom.” 

As soon as I had pronounced these words, he cast 
the flowers from his lap, and took hold of the skirt of 
my garment, [saying] “ When the generous promise, they 
perform .” It befel that in a few days a chapter or two 
were entered in my note-book, on the advantages of 
society , 40 and the rules of conversation , 41 in a style that 
may be useful to orators, and augment the eloquence 
of letter-writers . 42 In short, the rose of the flower- 
garden still continued to bloom, when the book of the 
“ Rose Garden ” was finished. It will, however, be then 
really perfected when it is approved and condescendingly 
perused 43 at the court of the King, the Asylum of the 

40 The seventh chapter, li-wy j+fo jti dor tdsir-i tarbiyat. 

Ross translates muasharat, “education,” which is hardly 

defensible. It means rather “enjoyable intercourse.” 

41 The eighth chapter, n v ' 45 (_>! J| jJ dar ddab-i suhbat. 

42 Richardson’s Dictionary is silent as to this word 

43 A string of titles separates the latter part of this sentence, 
which I have somewhat freely translated, from the jq I 
pasandldah dyad, “it is approved.” The more literal rendering 
would he, “It will, however, be really complete when it shall 
have been approved at the court of the King, the Asylum of 
the World,” etc., “and [when] he shall have condescended to 
peruse it with the benign glance of imperial favour.” Owing 
to the length of the titles, the passage is rather involved, and 
all the translators appear to me to deal unfairly by it. Ross 
and Gladwin both omit to translate 

Abd-bakr-bin-Sad-lin-Zangl ; whence it would almost seem that 
they overlooked the circumstance that the Sid-bin-Atabak was 
the son of Abu-bakr, who was the son of a former Sid, and 
who admitted the second Sid to reign jointly with himself. 



world, the Shadow of the Creator, and the Light of the 
Bounty of the All-provider, the Treasury of the Age, 
the Retreat 44 of true Religion, the Aided by Heaven, the 
Triumphant over his Enemies, the Victorious Arm of 
the Empire, the Lamp of the excelling Faith, the Beauty 
of Mankind, the Glory of Islam, Sad, the son of the Most 
Puissant King of Kings, Master of attending Nations, Lord 
of the Kings of Arabia and Persia, Sovereign of Land 
and Sea, Heir to the Throne of Sulaiman, Atabak the 
Great, Muzaffaru'd-din Abu-bakr-bin-Sad-bin-Zangi : (May 
God most High perpetuate the good fortune of both, and 
prosper all their righteous undertakings !) 


If the imperial favour should it grace, 

’Twill rival China’s 45 paintings, Arjang’s pictured 
leaf . 48 

Ne’er with chagrin can it o’ercloud the face ; 

For the rose garden 47 is no place for grief, 

And its fair preface hears, impressed by fame. 

Great Sad Ahu-hakr-Sad-bin-Zangl’s name. 

“ < — Kdhf signifies “a cave,” especially the cave in which 
the seven young Christians of Ephesus took refuge from the 
persecutions of the Emperor Decius. They are called the 
ashdb-i kdhf, “lords of the cave.” 

“ M. Semelet quotes Gentius as to a great city on the 
confines of India called Sina, and possessing an edifice adorned 
with paintings, to which he supposes allusion is here made. 
I should rather suppose that Chinese paintings were meant. 

M Richardson's Dictionary tells us that Arjang is the name 
of the house of the painter Manes. M. Semelet holds it to 
mean a hook of his; and Ross translates the passage by “the 
picture-portfolio of Man!.” Man! or Manes, the founder of the 
Manichseans, was a painter of wondrous skill, who lived in the 
reign of Shahpur or Sapor, the son of Ardastr Bahakan. He 
was burnt alive by order of Bahrain. 

47 An equivoque on the word Gulistan. 



A second time the bride o£ my imagination, conscious 
of her want of beauty, lifts not up her head, nor raises 
the eye of despondency from the instep of hashfulness, 
and comes not forth adorned among the bevy of beauties, 
save when decked with the ornaments of the approbation 
of the mighty, wise, just, and divinely- supported Lord, 
the Victorious over his Foes, Prop of the Imperial 
Throne, Counsellor of State, Shelter of the Indigent, 
Asylum of the Poor, Patron of the Eminent, Friend 
of the Pure, Glory of the People of Fare, Right-hand of 
the Empire, Prince of Favourites, Ornament of the State 
and of Religion, Succour of the True Faith and of the 
Faithful, Pillar of Bongs and Princes ; Abu-bakr-bin- 
Abu-nasr (May God prolong his life, increase his dignity, 
cause his breast to expand with joy, and double his 
reward ! for he is extolled by the nobles of all quarters 
of the globe, and is an assemblage of all laudable 


When his kind care, protective, one defends. 

Pious his sins become, his foemen, friends. 

To each one of the other servants and attendants a 
separate duty is assigned ; such that if in the performance 
of it- they indulge in any negligence or sloth, they 
assuredly inour the liability of reproof, and expose 
themselves to rebuke ; all save this tribe of Darweshes 
[of whom Sadi is one] from whom thanks are due for 
the benefits they receive from the great, and whom it 
behoves to recount the fair virtues [of their benefactors] 
and offer up prayers for their welfare : 48 and the per- 

“ Ross here and in several places renders Idiair by 
“ charity.” I cannot think it has this meaning in this place, 
where, if “alms” were intended, khairat would, in 

my opinion, be used. 



formance of such duties as these is better in absence 
than when present, for in the latter case it borders on 
ostentation, and in the former it is far from outward 
show and allied to acceptance with God. 


Straight grew the sky’s crook’d back 49 from that fair 

When the great mother, Time, produced a son like thee ; 
Signal that act of God’s wise, gracious power, 

In forming one who should to all a blessing be ! 

Lasting his fortune, whose fair name survives ; 

For after him, his memory shall by fame endure ; 

To thee the praise of learned men nought gives : 

The soul-entrancing cheek needs not the toilette’s 50 


A faultiness and neglect which takes place in the 
assiduity of my service at the court of my lord arises 
d-propos to what a body of the sages of Hind said of 
the excellence of Buzurchimihr . 51 At length they were 
unable to discover any defect in him but this, that in 
utterance he was slow (that is , 52 delayed long), so that 
his hearers were obliged to wait a long time until he 
could explain himself. Buzurchimihr heard this and 
said, “ It is better to be anxious what I shall say, than 
to suffer remorse for what I have said.” 

49 However unpalateable to European taste, I am obliged to 
present this strange metaphor in all its marvellous monstrosity. 

80 Metre compels me to substitute the temple for the priestess. 
Instead of “toilette ” it should be “tire-woman.” 

81 Buzurchimihr was the prime minister of Hushlrwan, king 
of Persia, in whose reign Muhammad was bom. 

89 The word here rendered “ slow ” is, in the text, Arabic, 
and is there explained in Persian to mean “ delayed long.” 
In English the latter expression becomes superfluous. 





The well-taught orators, 53 the men of age, 

First ponder well and then their thoughts declare : 

Waste not thy breath in thoughtless speech ; if sage 
Thy counsel, slowness will it nought impair. 

Reflect, then speak ; and let thy utterance cease 

Ere others say, “ Enough ! ” and bid thee “ Peace ! ” 

Men by the power of speech the brutes excel, 

The brutes surpass thee if thou speakest not well. 

And more especially in the presence of the Eye 51 of 

Royalty (glorious be his victory !), which is the rallying 
point for the wise, and the centre where profound sages 
meet ; if I should display boldness in pursuing the con- 
versation I might be guilty of presumption, and should 
be producing my trumpery 55 before his incomparable 
Excellency; and a glass-bead were not worth a barley- 
corn in the jewellers’ mart, and a lamp gives no light 
in the sun, and a lofty minaret shows low at the foot 
of mount A1 wand. 56 

83 ® eme ^ e ^ connects the 

liTV^ pw-i kuhan with the parwardah, and translates 

it thus, “ L’homme eloquent, instruit par un vieux maltre,” 
which may well be admitted among the seventy-two meanings 
of each sentence of the divine S&dl. 

M This word Lcl ) is in the plural, but the vaztr alone is 
meant. The expression, “ Eye of the king,” is, as is well 
known, one of the titles of a vazir. 

M Here is said to be an allusion to the Eur’an, c. xii. v, 88. 

! 1^5! lj ya atyuhd’l azlzu jt’nd bi- 

bizaatin muzjdtin, “ 0 most excellent ! we have come with little 
money;” where the brothers of Joseph are addressing him 
when about to buy com. 

" At eight or ten leagues to the east of Tehran is the 
remarkable peak of Alwand, or Alburz, as the inhabitants 
of Tehran call it. It is covered with eternal snow, and, 
according to Olivier, sometimes emits smoke. 




He who exalts his neck with pride 
Is girt with foes on every side ; 

Sadi lies prostrate, free from care : 

None of the fallen ere make war. 

Reflection first, speech last of all, 

The basement must precede the wall. 

True, that the art of making flowers I know ; 

But shall I try it where real flow’rets grow ? 

A beauty I — but will my cheek look fair, 

When they with Canaan’s glory 57 me compare ? 

They said to the sage Lukman , 58 “From whom didst 
thou learn wisdom?” He replied, “From the blind, 
who advance not their feet till they have tried the 
ground.” Try the egress before you enter. 


Try first your powers, and then try a wife. 

” These lines require a little expansion, which I have given 
to them. SSdl says, that though he may have a reputation 
for learning, it would appear altogether contemptible at the 
Court of the vazir, himself so wise, and surrounded by such 
a galaxy of sages ; just as a maker of artificial flowers would 
make himself ridiculous if he practised his art amid real flowers, 
or as an ordinary beauty would forfeit all pretensions to 
loveliness if compared with Joseph, the beauty of Canaan, 
whose charms, according to Musalman, were incomparable. 

“ Lukman, after whom the thirty-first chapter of the Kur’an 
is called, is by some reckoned among the Prophets, and called 
the cousin of Job ; and by others, the grand-nephew of 
Abraham ; others say he was bom in the time of David, and 
lived to that of Jonah ; others, again, call him an .^Ethiopian 
slave, liberated by his master for his fidelity. His fables 
and maxims are celebrated in the East, and the Greeks probably 
borrowed their account of Alsop from his history. 



Dauntless the cock in war, yet to what end 

Shall he with brazen- taloned hawks contend ? 

Capturing the mouse the cat doth lionly ; 

Gauged with the leopard but a mouse is she ! 

Nevertheless, in reliance on the liberal disposition of 
the great, who conceal the faults of the humble, and 
use no endeavour to disclose the defects of their inferiors, 
I have inserted in this book, in a concise way, a few 
narratives of rare adventures, and traditions, and tales, 
and verses, and manners of ancient kings, and I have 
expended some portion of precious life upon it. Such 
was my motive for composing the Gulistan. 


This verse instructive shall remain when I, 

Scattered in dust, in several atoms lie ; 

In short, since in no mundane thing I see - 
The signs impressed of perpetuity, 

This picture shall my sole memorial be ; 

Perhaps hereafter, for this pious task, 

Some man of prayer for me too grace shall ask. 

Mature consideration as to the arrangement of the 
Book, ordering of the chapters, and conciseness, made 
me 59 deem it expedient that this delicate Garden, and 
this densely wooded grove, should, like Paradise , 60 be 
divided into eight chapters, in order that it may become 
the less likely to fatigue. 

M M. Semelet’s reading J didam, is perhaps better than 
the one here adopted, in which ^ Lai iman-i nazar is made 

the nominative to oo J did. I confess I should like to insert 
j tea before jlsTl lja%. 

60 Here is an equivoque on the word bihisht, which 

means “ Paradise,” but with a little alteration becomes 
ba-hasht, “ in eight.” The Musalman divide Paradise into 
eight regions. 





I. On the Manners of Kings. 

II. On the Qualities of Darweshes. 

III. On the Excellence of Contentment. 

IV. On the Advantages of Taciturnity. 

V. On Love and Youth. 

VI. On Decrepitude and Old Age. 

VII. On the Effect of Education. 

VIII. On the Duties of Society. 


Six hundred six and fifty years had waned 

From the famed Flight 61 ; then when no sorrow pained 

My heart, I sought these words, with truth impressed. 

To say, and thus have said : to God belongs the rest. 

“ The flight of Muhammad, the ASra by which the Musalman 
reckon, took place on the 16th of July, 622. Consequently 
the date of- the Gulistan is A.D. 1258. 




Story I. 

I have heard of a king who made a sign to put a 
captive to death. The hapless one, in a state of despair, 
began in the dialect he spoke 62 to abuse the monarch, 
and use opprobrious language; as they say, “Every 
one, who washes his hands of life, utters all he has in 
his heart.” 


He that despairs, gives license to his tongue. 

As cats by dogs o’erpressed rush madly on. 


The hand, when flight remains not, in despair 
Will grasp the point 63 of the sharp scymitar. 

The King asked, “ What does he say ? ” . One of the 
vazlrs, who was of a good disposition, 64 said, “0 my 
Lord ! he says that [ Paradise , whose breadth equalleth 
the heavens and the earth, is prepared for the godly\, who 
bridle their anger , and forgive men; for God loveth the 

“ Literally, “ he had.” So also in Gaelic, “ I have no 
English,” for “I speak no English.” 

“ M. Semelet translates j~> tar, by “la poignee,” which 
appears less correct. S&dl says, “ In despair the naked hand 
will seize the point of a sword held by a foe.” Ross and 
Gladwin render ^ sar by “edge,” which is rather i_jU j zubub 
or t_J lab. 

44 Richardson’s Dictionary very strangely omits this meaning 
ai jAjs* mahzar. 



beneficent .” ® The King had. compassion upon him, and 
gave up the intention of [spilling] his blood. Another 
vazlr, who was his rival, said, “ It beseems not such as 
we are to speak aught hut truth in the august presence 
of kings. This person reviled the king, and spoke un- 
becomingly.” At this speech the King frowned and 
said, " That untruth of his is more acceptable to me than 
this truth which thou hast spoken ; for that inclined 69 
towards a good purpose, and this to malevolence; and 
the sages have said, ‘ Well-intentioned falsehood is better 
than mischief -exciting truth.’ ” 


Words which beguile thee, but thy heart make glad, 

Outvalue truth which makes thy temper sad. 

They by whose counsels kings are ruled, ’twere shame 

If good in all they said were not their aim. 

This maxim was inscribed over the vaulted entrance 
of Farldun’8 67 palace. 

“ This is a quotation from the Kur’an, c. iii. v. 134; and 
it is very essential to note this, as the vazlr can hardly he said 
to have told a falsehood in putting a text enjoining mercy 
into the mouth of the captive ; at least, there is a shade of 
difference between this and inventing something out of his 
own head. This very text is said to have been quoted to 
Hasan, grandson of Muhammad, when a slave threw something 
boiling hot over him. At the first sentence, Hasan replied, 
“I am not angry”; at the second, “I forgive you”; and at 
the conclusion, viz., “ God loveth the beneficent,” he added, 
“ Since it is so I give you your liberty and four hundred pieces 
of silver .” — Vide Sale’s Koran, p. 47, Note D. 

“ M. Semelet seems to think that mi is here used in 
an uncommon sense, but the literal translation is simply “ its 
countenance was towards good,” — an easy metaphor. 

61 Faridun was the seventh king of the first dynasty of 
Persian kings. He overcame the tyrant Zaljhak, and imprisoned 
him in the mountain Damavend. 

2 + 



The world, my brother ! will abide with none, 

By the world’s Maker let thy heart he won. 

Bely not, nor repose on this world’s gain, 

For many a son like thee she has reared and slain. 
What matters, when the spirit seeks to fly, 

If on a throne or on hare earth we die ? 

Stoky II. 

One of the kings of Khurasan 68 beheld, in a dream, 
Sultan Mahmud 69 Sabuktagln, a hundred years after his 
death, when all his body had dissolved and become dust, 
save his eyes, which, as heretofore, moved in their 
sockets and saw. All the sages were at a loss for the 
interpretation of this, except a darwesh, who made his 
obeisance, and said, “His eyes still retain their sight, 
because his kingdom is in the possession of others.” 


Full many a chief of glorious name 
Beneath the ground now buried lies, 

Yet not one token of his fame 

On earth’s wide surface meets our eyes. 

That aged form of life bereft, 

Which to earth’s keeping they commit, 

The soil devours ; no bone is left, 

Ho trace remains to tell of it. 

The glorious name of Hu shir van 
Lives in his deeds year after year. 

,a Khurasan, according to Richardson’s Dictionary, is the 
ancient Bactria, lying to the north of the Oxus, but at present 
it is used of Afghanistan, from the Bolan to Herat, and the 
frontiers of Persia. 

“ Mahmud succeeded his father, Sabuktagin, on the throne 
of Ghazni. A.D, 997, and died after a reign of thirty-three 
years, and after he had conquered great part of Hindustan, 
and taken the cities of Dihli and Kanoj. 



Do good, my friend ! and look upon 
This life as an occasion won 
For acting well, ere yet we hear 
Of thee, that thy career is done. 

Story III. 

I have heard of a prince who was of low stature 
and mean appearance, while his other brothers were 
tall and handsome. One day, his father surveyed him 
with loathing and contempt. The son had penetration 
enough to discover [his feelings], and said, “ 0 my 
father! an intelligent dwarf is superior to an ignorant 
giant. Not every thing that is higher in stature is 
more valuable : ‘ The sheep is clean and the elephant 


Least of earth’s mountain’s is Sinai, yet all 

In worth and rank with God beneath it fall. 


Hast thou heard how the lean sage wittily 
A bloated fool’s presumption stilled ? 

‘ The steed of Arab race, though slim he be, 
Transcends a stall with asses filled.’ ” 

His sire laughed, and the Pillars of the State approved, 
and his brothers were mortally offended. 


While a man’s say is yet unsaid, 

His weakness, merits, none descry ; 

Think not each waste’s untenanted : 

A sleeping tiger there may lie. 

I have heard, that at that time a dangerous enemy to 
the King shewed himself. When the two armies en- 
countered, the first person who galloped forward on the 
field of battle was that young prince, exclaiming, 




I’m not lie that, on the battle-day, my back will meet 
thy sight ; 

I’m one whose head thou’lt follow ’mid the dust and 
gory fight. 

He must stake carelessly his blood who joins in war’s 
grim strife ; 

Who flies in war risks carelessly his fellow-soldier’s life. 

He said this, and rushed on the hostile array; after 
overthrowing several veteran warriors he came back. 
As soon as he presented himself to his father, he kissed 
the ground of obedience 70 and said, 


Thou who my stature didst with scorn survey, 

Think not that roughness marks the bold in war ; 
The slender courser in the battle-day 
Will the fat stall-fed ox outvalue far. 

They relate that the host of the enemy was numerous, 
and this side fewer. A body of the latter prepared to 
fly ; the young prince uttered a shout and said, “ 0 
men ! exert yourselves, that ye may not be clothed in 
the dress of women.” The horsemen were inspired by 
his words with increased ardour, and made a simultaneous 
charge. I have heard that on that day they obtained 
a victory over the enemy. The King kissed his head 
and his eyes and embraced him, and each day entertained 
a stronger regard for him until he made him his heir. 
His brothers envied him, and put poison in his food. 
His sister saw it from a window, and closed the casement 
sharply. The young prince, by his acuteness, understood 
her meaning, and drew back his hand from the food, and 
said, “ It is impossible that men of merit should perish, 
and those who have none should occupy their places.” 

’° This expression is a very common one. It simply means, 
“kissed the ground obediently.” 




What though the phoenix from the world take flight, 

’Neath the owl’s shadow none will ere alight. 

They acquainted the father with this circumstance. He 
sent for the brothers and gave them a fitting reproof. 
Afterwards he assigned to each a suitable portion of his 
dominions, so that faction subsided and discord was ap- 
peased. In relation to this 71 they have said, that “Ten 
darweshes may sleep under one blanket, but one country 
cannot contain two kings.” 


The man of God with half his loaf content. 

To darweshes the remnant will present ; 

But though a king seven regions should subdue, 

He’ll still another conquest keep in view. 

Story IY. 

A horde of Arabian robbers had fixed themselves on 
the summit of a mountain, and had stopped the passage 
of caravans, and the inhabitants of the country were in 
terror of their ambuscades, and the forces of the Sultan 
were repulsed by them, because they had possessed them- 
selves of an inaccessible retreat in the crest of the moun- 
tain, and made it their refuge and place of abode. The 
governors of provinces in that direction took counsel as 
to the means of getting rid of the annoyance they 

11 Gladwin leaves the IsTul j\ az Injd, untranslated. M. 
Semelet translates it simply by “et.” Ross inserts, “but the 
ferment was increased,” as an explanation. Hence it appears 
to me that all the translators have missed the right meaning 
of the concluding passage, which I am of opinion is simply an 
explanation of how the discord subsided, viz. : because each 
brother had a separate kingdom allotted to him. To suppose, 
with Ross, that the discord increased, would give a singularly 
abrupt termination to the story. 


occasioned, saying,™ “If this band maintain themselves 
any time in this fashion, resistance to them will become 


A single arm may now uptear 
A tree if lately planted there ; 

But if it for a time you leave, 

No engine could its roots upheave. 

A spade may the young rill restrain, 

Whose channel, swollen [by storms and rain] 

The elephant attempts in vain. 

They came to the decision 73 to depute a person to 
reconnoitre them: and these watched their opportunity 
until the robbers made a foray on a tribe and their 
hold was evacuated, when they despatched a small body 
of experienced veterans to conceal themselves in a defile 
of the mountain. At night, when the robbers returned, 
having accomplished their expedition, and brought back 
their spoil, they laid aside their arms and deposited their 
booty. Tho first enemy that attacked them was sleep . 74 
As soon as a watch 75 of the night had passed — 


The solar orb sank down in night’s thick gloom, 

As, in the fish -maw, Jonas found a tomb . 78 

™ I think M. Semelet has done well in supplying kih 
here, and should wish it to he supplied in my edition of the 

" Literally, “the word was fixed on this,” a Persianism 
which must be freely rendered. 

74 There should be a full stop at Jy bud, and a comma at 

ba-guzatht. M. Semelet’s punctuation is preferable 
to that of my edition, which is copied from Gladwin’s. 

75 That is, at nine o’clock, since the night is reckoned from 
six p.m., and each watch is of three hours’ duration. 

79 This is certainly a strange comparison. It seems to me 
a simile with the slenderest possible thread of similarity. 



The valiant men leapt forth from their ambuscade 
and bound the hands of all of them, one after the other, 
behind their backs. In the morning they brought them 
to the palace of the king. He gave a sign to put them 
all to death. It happened that among them was a 
stripling, the fruit of whose youthful prime was but 
just ripening, and the bloom of the rose-garden of whose 
cheek had just expanded. One of the vazirs kissed the 
foot of the king’s throne, and bowed the face of inter- 
cession to the ground and said, “This child has not 
yet tasted the fruit of the garden of life, nor reaped 
enjoyment from the flower of his youth. I rely on the 
clemency and virtues of his Majesty, that he will oblige 
his slave by sparing his life.” The King looked dis- 
pleased at these words, and his lofty understanding did 
not approve them, and he said, 


“ The good in vain their rays will pour 
On those whose hearts are bad at core. 

T’ instruct the base will fail at last, 

As walnuts on a dome you cast . 17 

It is better to cut off their race and tribe, and more 
advisable to extirpate them root and branch ; ra since, to 
extinguish a fire and to leave the embers, and to kill a 
serpent and preserve its young, are not the acts of 
wise men. 


What though life’s water from the clouds descend, 
Thou’lt ne’er pluck fruit from off the willow-bough ; 

Hot on the base thy precious moments spend, 

Thou’lt ne’er taste sugar from the reed, I trow.” 

17 If you throw walnuts on a dome they will fall down 
again, and perhaps on your own head; such is the meaning 
of this strange, but frequently occurring simile. 

78 Literally, “ root and foundation,” which corresponds to our 
expression as used in the text. 



The vazlr heard these words, and, willing or not, 
assented to them, and extolled the excellence of the 
king’s judgment and said, “What my lord (may his 
dominion be eternal ! ) has been pleased to say is the 
essence of truth : for had he been reared in the bond 
of the society of those evil persons he would have become 
one of them. However, your slave is in hopes that he 
will receive his education in the society of good men, 
and will adopt the character of the wise, since he is yet 
but a child, and the rebellious and perverse habits of 
those bandits have not fixed themselves in his nature ; 
and in the traditions of the Prophet [it is said] “ There 
is no person born but assuredly he is begotten [with a natural 
disposition] to the faith of Islam ; then his parents make 
a Jew of him, or a Christian, or a Magian. 


Lot’s wife consorted with the unjust, and she 
Quenched in her race the light of prophecy. 

And the cave- sleepers ’ 79 dog sometime remained 
With good men, and the rank of man attained.” 

When he had thus spoken, a number of the councillors 
of state united with him in intercession, so that the king 
abstained from shedding his blood and said, “ I have 
spared his life, though I disapprove of it.” 


Kuo west thou what Zal to valiant Rustam said ? 
Deem not thy foeman weak, without resource ; 

Full many a rill, from tiny springlet fed. 

Sweeps off the camel in its onwarf course. 

In short, the vazlr took the youth to his house and 
reared him delicately, and appointed a learned preceptor 

n For an account of the Seven Sleepers who fell asleep in 
a cave near Ephesus in the reign of the . Emperor Decius 
A.D. 253, and awoke A.D. 408, under that of Theodosius 
the Younger, vide the Kur’an, c. 18, and M. Semelet’s notes 
on this passage of the Gulistan. 



to instruct him, who taught him elegant address and 
quickness in repartee, and all the manners fit for the 
service of kings, so that he was viewed with approbation 
by his compeers. At length the vazlr related somewhat 
of his abilities and good qualities to his Majesty the 
king, saying, “ The instruction of the wise has produced 
an effect upon him, and has expelled from his disposition 
his former ignorance.” The king smiled at these words 
and said, 


“ The wolf’s whelp will at last a wolf become, 

Though from his birth he finds with man a home.” 

After this, two years passed away, and a set of dissolute 
fellows in the quarter where he lived joined themselves 
to him, and formed a league with him, so that at a 
favourable opportunity he slew the vazlr with his two 
sons, and carried off an immense booty, and took the 
place of his father in the robber’s cave, and became an 
avowed rebel. They acquainted the king. The king 
seized the hand of amazement with his teeth, 80 and said, 


“ Who can from faulty iron good swords frame ? 
Teaching, 0 Sage ! lends not the worthless worth. 

The rain, whose bounteous nature’s still the same, 

Gives flowers in gardens, thorns in salt land birth. 

Salt ground will not the precious spikenard bear ; 
Waste not thereon the seed of thy emprise : 

Who benefits on evil men confer, 

Upon the good no less heap injuries.” 

Story Y. 

I saw at the gate of the palace of U ghlamish 81 the 
son of an officer endowed with intellect, quickness of 

80 Orientals represent surprise by biting the fore-finger. 

81 TTghlamish was the son of the celebrated Tartar conqueror, 
Janglz Khan, and reigned towards the year 656 of the Hi j rah. 

3 * 


parts, understanding and sagacity beyond description. 
Even from the time of his childhood the signs of great- 
ness were found on his forehead, and the rays of lumi- 
nousness visible and distinct in his countenance, and 
many hearts were enamoured of him. 


And high above his head shone lustrously 
The star of wisdom and of majesty. 

In short, he became a favourite of the Sultan, for he 
possessed beauty of person and perfection of mind : and 
the sages have said, “Wealth consists in talent, not in 
goods ; greatness, in understanding, not in age.” His 
compeers grew envious of him, and accused him of 
treason, and used fruitless endeavours to put him to 


While friends are true what can the foe effect ? 

The king asked him, “ What is the cause of their 
hostility towards you ? ” He replied, “ I have satisfied 
all who are under the shadow of the royal dominion, 
except the envious, who cannot be contented, except by 
the waning of my good fortune. May the wealth and 
auspicious destiny of my lord remain perpetual ! ” 


This can I do — inflict distress on none ; 

Envy ’s its own distress — what can I there ? 

Perish, O envious one ! for thus alone 

Canst thou escape from thy self-nurtured care. 

The wretched long to witness the decay 
Of fortune’s favours to the happier few : 

But, though the bat be visionless by day, 

Can we for this a fault or failing view 
In the sun’s fount of light ? ’T were better far 
A thousand of such eyes no vision knew, 

Than the bright radiance of the sun to mar . 



Story VI. 

They relate of one of the kings of Persia, that he had 
extended the hand of oppression upon the property of 
his subjects, and had entered on a course of tyranny 
and injustice. The people were reduced to extremity 
by the snares of his cruelty, and from the anguish of 
his tyranny took the road of exile. As the people 
diminished, the resources of the State were impaired, 
and the treasury remained empty, and enemies pressed 
him on every side. 


He who in adversity would succour have. 

Let him be generous while he rests secure. 

Thou that reward’ st him not, wilt lose thy slave, 

Though wearing now thy ring. 82 Wouldst thou secure 
The stranger as thy slave, be to him kind ; 

And by thy courtesy enslave his mind. 

One day they read, in his presence, the book of the 
Shah-namah, in the part which relates to the decline of 
the empire of Zahhak, and the reign of Faridun. The 
vazlr asked the king, saying, “ Faridun possessed not 
treasure, territory, or troops ; in what manner was the 
kingdom secured in his favour ? ” He replied, “ Just 
as you have heard; the people rallied round him from 
attachment to him, and gave him their support : he 
gained the kingdom.” The vazlr rejoined, “ 0 king ! 
since sovereignty is acquired by the people’s resorting 
to one, why dost thou scatter the people from thee ? 
unless, indeed, thou dost not purpose to be a king.” 

Since monarchs by their troops their States control, 

Cherish thy host, 0 king ! with all thy soul. 

!a I have not translated J* la-gush, “in the ear.” The 
ring in the ear is the badge of servitude in the East. 


3 + 


The king asked, “ What causes the soldiery and the 
people to rally round you ? ” He replied, “ A king 
must be just, that they may resort to him, and merciful, 
that they may sit secure under the shadow of his great- 
ness — and thou hast neither of these two qualities.” 

Kingcraft yokes not with tyranny : 

The wolf cannot the shepherd be. 

Tyrants who on their people fall, 

Sap their own State’s foundation- wall. 

The counsel of the faithful vazlr suited not the king’s 
temper. He ordered him to be bound and sent him to 
prison. No long time had elapsed when the sons of 
the king’s uncle rose in revolt, and arrayed an army 
against him, and demanded the kingdom of their father. 
Numbers who had been driven to despair by his tyranny, 
and were dispersed, gathered round them and lent them 
their support, so that the kingdom passed from his hands. 


The king who dares his subjects to oppress, 

In day of need will find his friend a foe — 

A mighty one. Soothe, rather, and caress 
Thy people ; and in war-time thou wilt know 

No fear of foes; for a just potentate 

The nation’s self will be a host to guard the State, 

Story YII. 

A king was seated in a vessel with a Persian slave. 
The slave had never before beheld the sea, nor expe- 
rienced the inconvenience of a ship . 83 He began to 

83 M. Semelet explains this as meaning of “ sea-sickness ; ” 
but I think the context shews it has a more general meaning. 
It is evident the vessel was floating quietly along, so that 
when the slave was thrown - in he was not swept away, but 
easily reached the rudder. 



weep and bemoan himself, and a tremor pervaded his 
frame. In spite of their endeavours to soothe him, he 
would not he quieted. The comfort of the king was 
disturbed by him ; but they could not devise a remedy. 
In the ship there was a philosopher, 8 * who said, “ If you 
command, I will silence him.” The king answered, “ It 
would be the greatest favour.” The philosopher directed 
them to cast the slave into the sea. He underwent 
several submersions, and they then took him by the hair 
and dragged him towards the ship. He clung to the 
rudder of the vessel with both hands, and they then 
pulled him on board again. "When he had come on 
board, he seated himself in a corner and kept quiet. 
The king approved, and asked, “ What was the secret of 
this expedient ? ” The philosopher replied, “ At first he 
had not tasted the agony of drowning, and knew not the 
value of the safety of a vessel. In the same manner a 
person who is overtaken by calamity learns to value 
a state of freedom from ill.” u 


Sated, thou wilt my barley-loaf repel. 

She whom I love ill-favoured seems to thee. 

To Eden’s Hourls 88 traf would seem hell : 

Hell’s inmates ask — they’ll call it heavenly 


Wide is the space ’twixt him who clasps his love, 

And him whose eyes watch for the door to move . 88 

81 I think Ross and Gladwin, as also M. Semelet, wrong in 
rendering hakim , “a physician;” to tally with which 

the two former translate uz-vjlc afiyat, by “health.” M. 
Semelet, on the contrary, very properly gives “ incolumitaa ” 
as its equivalent. 

95 For the Houris, vide Sale’s Koran, p. 393 ; and for Iraf 
(or Purgatory), Sale, p. 111. 

86 In expectation of seeing his loved one come in. 


Story VIII. 

They said to Hurmuz Tajdar , 87 “ What fault didst 
thou find in the vazlrs of thy father that thou didst 
command them to be imprisoned ? ” He replied, “ I dis- 
covered no fault in them ; but I saw that they had a 
boundless fear of me in their hearts, and that they had 
not entire confidence in my promise. I feared that 
through dread of injury to themselves they might 
attempt my destruction ; wherefore I put into practice 
the maxim of the wise men who have said, 


Thou who art wise, fear him who feareth thee. 

Though thou like him a hundred wouldst despise : 

Seest thou not, how in last extremity, 

The cat will lacerate the leopard’s eyes P 

Hence, too, the snake the shepherd wounds ; for he 
Dreads the raised stone and down-crushed agonies.” 

Story IX. 

One of the Arabian kings was Bick in his old age, and 
the hope of surviving was cut off. Suddenly a horse- 
man entered the portal, and brought good tidings, saying, 
“ By the auspicious fortune of my lord we have taken 
such a castle, and the enemies are made prisoners, and 
the troops and ^peasantry in that quarter are entirely 
reduced to obedience.” When the king heard this 
speech he heaved a cold sigh, and said, “These joyful 
tidings are not for me, but for my enemies ; that is, the 
heirs of my crown.” 

81 Hurmuz Tajdar, or “the crown- wearer,” was so called 
because, wishing to dispense justice on all occasions himself, 
without the intervention of others between himself and his 
subjects, he continually wore the crown, to denote his readiness 
to discharge his kingly functions. He was the son of Nushlrvan, 
and his tutor, Buzurchimihr, has been already mentioned in 
the Preface. 




In this fond hope, dear life, alas ! has waned : 

That my heart’s wish might not he wished in vain : 

Hope, long delayed, is granted. Have I gained 
Aught ? — Hay. Life spent returns not back again. 


Death’s hand has struck the signal-drum ; 

Eyes ! now obey your parting knell ! 

Hands, wrists, and arms, all members, come, 

And bid a mutual, long farewell ! 

Hope’s foe, Death, has me seized at last ; 

Once more, 0 friends ! before me move ; 

In folly has my time been past : 

May my regrets your warning prove ! 

Story X. 

In a certain year I was engaged in devotion at the 
tomb of the Prophet Yahiya, 88 in the principal mosque 
of Damascus. It happened that one of the Arabian 
princes, who was notorious for his injustice, came as a 
pilgrim thither, performed his prayers, and asked [of 
God] what he stood in need of. 


The poor, the rich, alike must here adore : 

The wealthier they, their need is here the more. 

He then turned towards me and said, “On account of 
the generous character of darweshes, and the sincerity 
of their dealings, I ask you to give me the aid of your 
spirit, for I stand in dread of a powerful enemy.” I 

88 St. John the Baptist, whose remains were said to be 
interred in a church at Damasous. After the conquest of Syria 
by the Musalman, this church was converted into a mosque, and 
called the mosque of the tribe of Ummiyah. 



replied, “ Shew mercy 89 to thy weak subjects, that thou 
mayst not experience annoyance 89 from a puissant foe.” 


With the strong arm and giant grasp ’tis wrong 
To crush the feeble, unresisting throng. 

Who pities not the fallen, let him fear, 

Lest, if he fall, no friendly hand be near. 

Who sows ill actions and of blessing dreams, 

Fosters vain phantasies and idly schemes. 

Unstop thy ears, thy people’s wants relieve, 

If not, a day 90 shall come when all their rights receive. 


All Adam’s race are members of one frame ; 

Since all, at first, from the same essence came. 

When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed. 

The other members lose their wonted rest : 

If thou feel’st not for others’ misery, 

A son of Adam is no name for thee. 

Story XI. 

A darwesh, whose prayers were accepted with God, 
made his appearance in Ba gh dad. They told this to 
Hajjaj -bin- Yusuf , 91 who sent for him, and said, “Offer 
up a good prayer for me.” The darwesh said, “ O God ! 
take away his life.” “ For God’s sake ! ” asked he, “what 
prayer is this?” He replied, “It is a good prayer for 
thee, and for all Musalman.” 

80 There is here a rhyme in the words j rahmat, and 

vt — »-» -j zahmat, which cannot be preserved in English. 

*° That is, the day of resurrection. 

11 Hajjaj-bin-Yusuf was the Governor of Arabian Irak, under 
the Khallfah Abd-ul-malik, A.H. 65. He was notorious for 
his oppression. 




Oppressor ! troubler of the poor ! 

How soon shall this thy mart 92 he o’er ! 

What good will empire be to thee ? 

Better thy death than tyranny. 

Stoky XII. 

An unjust king asked a religious man, “What sort 
of devotion is to be esteemed highest ? ” He replied, 
“ For thee to sleep at noon , 93 in order that in this state 
thou mightest cease for an instant to oppress mankind.” 


A tyrant lay, his noontide slumber taking : 

Said I — ’Tis best this scourge should sleeping lie ; 
And he whose sleep is better than his waking, 

’Tis best for such an evil one to die.” 

Stoky XIII. 

I have heard of a prince who had turned night into 
day, and had drunk wine all night ; and, in the height 
of his intoxication, uttered this couplet, 


“ Of all my bright and gladsome moments the gladdest 
is this one ; 

When of good or ill I reck not, and I harbour fear of 

A darwesh, entirely destitute of clothing, lay beneath 
his palace, outside, in the cold, and exclaimed, 

” The termination of life is here, as often elsewhere, com- 
pared to the closing of a market. 

M Eoss renders it, “ to sleep till noon.” If any one prefers 
this rendering I have nothing to say against it, except that 
perhaps lj to would he used in place of the izafat were it 
correct. The noontide-sleep is customary in hot climates, 




“ Thou with whom none may in success compare, 
Grant thou art griefless ; say, Have I no care P ” 

The king was pleased with this address. He held out 
from the window a purse containing a thousand dinars, 
and said, “ 0 darwesh ! hold thy lap.” He replied, 
“ Whence shall I get a lap, I who have not a garment P ” 
The king’s compassion for his wretched state increased ; 
he added to the purse a rich robe, which he sent out to 
him. The darwesh, in a short time, spent and squan- 
dered that sum of money, and came hack. 


Money abides not in the palm of those who careless live, 81 
Nor patience in the lover’s heart, nor water in the sieve. 

At a time when the king did not concern himself about 
him, they announced his state. He was displeased, and 
his countenance changed at this intelligence. And for 
this reason men of sagacity and experience have said, 
that it is requisite to beware of the violence and despotic 
temper of kings ; since for the most part their high 
thoughts are engaged with the arduous affairs of State, 
and they will not endure the vulgar throng. 


Let him not hope kings’ favours, who omits 
To watch the moment which his prayer befits. 

Till thou observest the j ust time for speech 
Do not by useless words thy cause impeach. 

The king said, “Drive away this impudent and prodigal 
mendicant who, in so short a time, has dissipated such 
a treasure, and does not know that the royal treasury is 
to supply morsels to the poor, not feasts to the fraternity 
of devils.” 

M Wandering devotees, who have renounced the world and 
are, therefore, careless. 


4 1 


The dolt, who in bright day sets up a camphor light, 
Soon thou wilt see his lamp devoid of oil at night. 

One of the vazirs, who was a man of prudence, said, 
“0 my lord ! to such persons one ought to give an 
allowance, by instalments, of what is just enough for 
their support, -that they may not become lavish in their 
expenses. But as to what thou commandest, namely, to 
treat him with violence, and to drive him away, it is 
not consonant with true generosity to make one expect 
favour and then to wound his spirit with disappointment.” 


Ope not thyself the door of greediness ; 

But roughly it to close beseems thee less. 


None see the Hijaz pilgrims, faint with thirst. 

Crowd to the margin of the briny sea : 

Where’er the fountains of sweet water burst 

Their way ; there men, and birds, and ants will be. 

Story XIV. 

One of the former kings showed remissness in protect- 
ing his dominions, and treated his army with severity. 
On the appearance of a powerful enemy, all turned their 


Soldiers, from whom the State withholds its gold, 
Will from the scymitar their hands withhold. 

What valour in war’s ranks will he display, 

Whose hand is empty on the reckoning day ? 

I had a friendship with one of those who had declined 
service. I reproached him and said, “He is base and 

4 * 


unthankful, and vile and ungrateful, who, on a slight 
change of fortune, deserts his old master, and lays aside 
the obligations of favours received for years.” He re- 
plied, “HI was to tell you [how matters stood] you 
would acquit me. Suppose my horse had no barley, and 
my saddle-cloth was in pawn ; and one cannot valiantly 
risk one’s life for a Sultan who is miserly to his soldiers.” 


Give thy troops gold that for thee they may die ; 

Else they’ll go seek a better destiny, 


The well-fed warrior will with ardour fight ; 

The starved will he as ardent in his flight. 

Story XV. 

One of the vazlrs had been dismissed from office, and 
had entered the community of darweshes, and the blessed 
influence of their society took effect upon him, and his 
peace of mind was restored to him. The king’s heart 
became again reconciled to him, and he offered him 
employment. The vazlr declined it, and said, “ Dis- 
charge is better than charge.” 


Those who in safety’s quiet nook repose 
Have stopped the t^eth of dogs and tongues of men ; 

Far from the slander and the reach of foes, 

They tear their paper and destroy their pen. 

The king said, “ It is most certain that I have need of 
a man of consummate wisdom, who may be suitable for 
the councils of the State.” He replied, “The sign of a 
man of consummate wisdom is not to engage in such 




The Huma 95 is for this of birds the king : 

It feeds on bones and hurts no living thing. 


They said to a lynx , 96 “ How didst thou come to 
choose service in attending on the lion ? ” He replied, 
“ Because I feed on the remains of his quarry, and pass 
my life in security from the malice of my enemies 
under the shelter of the awe which he inspires.” They 
rejoined, “How that thou hast come under the shadow 
of his protection, and avowest thy thankfulness for his 
favours ; why dost thou not approach nearer, that he may 
include thee in the circle of his especial favourites, and 
reckon thee among his devoted adherents P ” He replied, 
“ I am not so secure from his violence.” 


Though for a hundred years the Guebre feeds his flame, 
Did he once fall therein, ’twould feed on him the same. 

Sometimes it happens that the counsellor of his majesty 
the Sultan is rewarded with gold, and at another time, 
it may be that he loses his head ; and the sages have 
said, “ You ought to be on your guard against the 
changeableness of the temper of kings ; for, sometimes 
they are displeased at a respectful salutation, and at 
other times they bestow dresses of honour in return for 
abuse : ” and they have observed that, “ Great facetious- 

85 The Huma is the Phcenix ; or, as D'Herbelot tells us, 
a sort of eagle which feeds on bones, and is therefore oalled 
by the Persians Ustukhwan Kh’ur, the Ossifrage. This bird, 
from its not injuring other animals, is thought of happy 
augury, and from its name is derived the Persian adjective 
humayun, “ auspicious.” 

98 The other translators avoid rendering this word, and call 
it the Siyah Gush. The literal meaning is, “black ear.” 



ness is an accomplishment in oourtiers; but a fault in 
wise men.” 


To keep thy place and dignity be thine ; 

To courtiers wit and pleasantry resign. 

Story XVI. 

One of my companions came to me with complaints 
of his ill-fortune, saying, “I have but little means of 
subsistence, and a large family, and I cannot support 
the burthen of poverty; it has frequently entered my 
head that I would go to another country, in order that, 
live how I may, no one may know of my welfare or the 


Full many a starving wight has slept 97 unknown ; 

Full many a spirit fled that none bemoan. 

Again, I am in dread of the rejoicing of my enemies, 
lest they should laugh scof&ngly at me behind my back, 
and impute my exertions in behalf of my family to a 
want of humanity, and say, 


See now, that wretch devoid of shame ! for him 
Fair fortune’s face will smile not, nor has smiled ; 

Himself he pampers in each selfish whim, 

And leaves his hardships to his wife and child. 

And I know something, as you are aware, of the 
science of accounts ; if by your interest a means [of 
subsistence] could be afforded me, which might put me 
at ease, I should not be able to express my gratitude 
sufficiently to the end of my life.” I replied, “0 my 
friend ! the king’s service has two sides to it, — hope of 
a livelihood, and terror for one’s life ; and it is contrary 

97 Here used for “ died.” 



to the opinion of the wise, through such a hope to expose 
oneself to such a fear. 


None in the poor man’s hut demand 
Tax on his garden or his land. 

Be thou content with toil and woe, 

Or with thy entrails feed the crow.” 

He replied, “These words that thou hast spoken do 
not apply to my case, nor hast thou returned an answer 
to my question. Hast thou not heard what they hare 
said : ‘ that the hand of every one who chooses to act 
dishonestly trembles in rendering the account ’ P ” 

God favours those who follow the right way, 

From a straight road I ne’er saw mortal stray. 

“And the sages have said, 'Four kinds of persons are 
in deadly fear of four others : the brigand of the Sultan, 
and the thief of the watchman, and the adulterer of the 
informer, and the harlot of the superintendent of police ; ’ 
and what fear have those of the settling, whose accounts 
are clear P ” 


Wouldst thou confine thy rival’s power to harm 
Thee at discharge P then while thy trust remains. 

Be not too free ; none shall thee then alarm. 

’Tis the soiled raiment which, to cleanse from stains, 

Is struck on stones and asks the washer’s pains. 

I answered, “Applicable to thy case is the story of that 
fox which people saw running away in violent trepida- 
tion. 98 Some one said to him, ‘What calamity has 
happened to cause thee so much alarm ? ’ He replied, ‘ I 
have heard they are going to impress the camel.’ They 
rejoined, ‘ 0 Shatter-brain ! what connection has a camel 
with thee, and what resemblance hast thou to it ? ’ He 
M literally, “ falling and rising.” 


answered, ‘ Peace ! for if the envious should, to serve 
their own ends, say, “This is a camel,” and I should be 
taken, who would care about my release so as to inquire 
into my condition ? and before the antidote is brought 
from Irak, the person who is bitten by the snake may 
be dead.’ 99 And in the same way thou possessest merit, 
and good faith, and piety, and uprightness ; but the 
envious are in ambush, and the accusers are lurking in 
corners. If they should misrepresent thy fair qualities, 
and thou shouldest incur the king’s displeasure and fall 
into disgrace, who would have power, in that situation 
of affairs, to speak for thee ? I look upon it as thy best 
course to secure the kingdom of contentment, and to 
abandon the idea of preferment, since the wise have said, 


‘ Upon the sea ’tis true is boundless gain : 

Wouldst thou be safe, upon the shore remain.’ ” 

When my friend heard these words he was displeased, 
and his countenance was overcast, and he began to utter 
words which bore marks of his vexation, saying, “ What 
judgment, and profit, and understanding, and knowledge 
is this ? and the saying of the sages has turned out 
correct, in that they have said, ‘ Those are useful friends 
who continue so when we are in prison ; for at our table 
all our enemies appear friends.’ 


Think not thy friend one who in fortune’s hour 
Boasts of his friendship and fraternity. 

Him I call friend who sums up all his power 
To aid thee in distress and misery.” 

89 The jjl jy tiry&k is an antidote against poison. Some 
think it is treacle ; and others the bezoar-stone. Others would 
derive it from 6r/p “a noxious beast,” and dfceopai “to heal.” 
This sentence is a proverb in common use. 



I saw that he was troubled, and that my advice was taken 
in bad part. I went to the president of finance , 100 and, 
in accordance with our former intimacy, I told him the 
case; in consequence of which he appointed my friend 
to some trifling office. Some time passed away ; they 
saw the amenity of his disposition, and approved his 
excellent judgment. His affairs prospered, and he was 
appointed to a superior post ; and in the same manner 
the star of his prosperity continued to ascend until he 
reached the summit of his desires, and became a confi- 
dential servant of his Majesty the Sultan, and the 
pointed-at by men's fingers, and one in whom the ministers 
of State placed their confidence. I rejoiced at his secure 
position and said, 


Have no doubts because of trouble nor be thou dis- 
, comfited ; 

For the water of life’s fountain 101 springeth from a 
gloomy bed. 


Ah ! ye brothers of misfortune ! be not ye with grief 

Many are the secret mercies which with the All-bounteous 


Sit not sad because that Time a fitful aspect weareth ; 
Patience is most bitter, yet most sweet the fruit it 

100 diwan may, as M. Semelet remarks, have several 
meanings ; but the one evidently intended here is what I have 
given ; for SMI’s friend, we are told, had a talent for accounts. 

101 Muhammadans believe in a fountain of life, to taste one 
drop of which bestows immortality. They say that jAA- 
Khizr, or Elias, who, they suppose, was the general of the 
first Alexander, discovered this fountain, and drank of it, and 
hence he can never die. 



During tins interval I happened to accompany a number 
of my friends on a journey to Hijaz. 10 * When I re- 
turned from the pilgrimage to Makkah he came out 
two stages to meet me. I saw that his outward appear- 
ance was one of distress, and that he wore the garb of 
a darwesh. I said, “What is thy condition?” He 
replied, “ Just as thou saidst : a party became envious 
of me, and accused me of disloyal conduct ; and the king 
did not deign to inquire minutely into the explanation 
of the circumstances ; and my former companions, and 
even my sincere friends, forbore to utter the truth, and 
forgot their long intimacy. 


When one has fallen from high heaven’s decree, 

The banded world will trample on his head ; 

Then fawn and fold their hands respectfully, 

When they behold his steps by fortune led. • 

In short, I was subjected to all kinds of tortures till 
within this week that the good tidings of the safety of 
the pilgrims 103 arrived, when they granted me release 
from grievous durance, with the confiscation of my 
hereditary estate.” I said, “ At that time thou wouldest 
not receive my suggestion, that the service of the king 
is like a sea-voyage, at once profitable and fraught with 
peril ; where thou either wilt acquire a treasure, or 
perish amid the billows. 


Or with both hands the merchant shall one day embrace 
the gold ; 

Or by the waves his lifeless form shall on the strand be 

I did not think it right to lacerate his mental wounds 

,a Arabia Petrsea. 

103 The pilgrims to Makkah. 



further, or to sprinkle them with salt. I confined myself 
to these two couplets and said, 


“ Knewest thou not that thou wouldst see the chains upon 
thy feet, 

When a deaf ear thou tumedst on the counsels of the 
wise ? 

If the torture of the sting thou canst not with courage 

Place not thy finger in the hole where the sullen 
scorpion lies.” 

Story XVII. 

Certain persons were associates of mine, whose external 
conduct was adorned with rectitude. A great personage 
entertained a strong opinion in their favour, and had 
settled a pension upon them. But one of them did an 
act which was unbecoming the character of a darwesh. 
The favour of that person was estranged, and their 
market was depreciated . 101 I wished to set my com- 
panions free as regarded their allowance, and resolved to 
wait on their patron. The porter would not suffer me 
to enter, and treated me with insolence. I excused him, 
in accordance with what they have said, 


“ To door of king, or minister, or peer, 

Draw thou not nigh unless with patrons girt ; 

For if a poor man at the gate appear, 

Warders his collar seize, and dogs his skirt.” 

As soon as the favourite attendants of that great man 
were informed of my condition, they brought me in 
with respect, and assigned me a place of distinction. 
However, I submissively seated myself lower, and said, 

104 That is, their supplies were cut off. 



5 ° 


“ Permit me, a slave of low degree, 

To sit among those who wait on thee.” 

He replied, “ My God ! my God ! what room is there 
for this speech ? ” 


What though my head and eyelids thou shouldst press, 
I’d bear thy love-airs for thy loveliness. 

In short, I seated myself, and conversed on all subjects, 
till the circumstance of my friends’ disgrace was intro- 
duced. I said, 


“ What did the Lord of past munificence 

See in his servants that he deemed them vile ? 
God’s rule is boundless, and, with love immense, 

He notes our sins, but us sustains meanwhile.” 

These words were approved by the prince, and he ordered 
that they should make ready the means of maintenance 
for my friends, according to the former custom, and that 
they should make up to them the supplies which they 
would have received during the time their allowance was 
stopped. I returned thanks for this favour, and kissed 
the ground of obedience, and asked pardon for my bold- 
ness ; and as I was departing I said these words, 


“ The Kabah 105 is the place of answered prayer ; 

Therefore, from many a league the pilgrim throngs 
To view its fane ; from distant lands repair 

The hurrying crowds. Thus, too, to thee belongs 
Patience, with supplicants like me to bear ; 

For none cast stones at trees save fruit be there.” 

108 The temple at Makkah. 



Stohy XVIII. 

A prince inherited from his father an immense treasure. 
He opened the hand of munificence, and did justice to 
his generous disposition, and lavished on his soldiers and 
subjects incalculable sums. 


The aloes-tray, from which no fragrance came, 

If placed on fire, its inodorous state 

Will change, more sweet than ambergris. So fame, 
Thou for thyself by generous deeds create ; 

The unsown seed will never germinate. 

One of his courtiers, who lacked discretion, began to 
admonish him, saying, “ Former monarchs acquired this 
treasure by their exertions, and stored it up for a wise 
purpose. Hold back thy hand from this procedure, for 
emergencies are before thee and foes behind. It must 
not be that in time of need thou shouldst fail. 


Expend thy treasure for thy people’s sake. 

The share of each 106 would be a single grain ; 107 

Rather from each a grain of silver take, 

And thou wilt thus each day a treasure gain.” 

The prince frowned at these words, which were not in 
unison with his sentiments, and said, “ God (may He be 
honoured and glorified!) has made me sovereign of this 
realm, that I may gratify my own wants and be liberal 
to others. I am not a sentinel to keep guard over [what 
I have]. 

1M In the original, “ each father of a family.” 

107 A grain of rice. 

5 * 



Karun 108 with forty treasures was of life bereft ; 

But Nushlrwan’s still ruling in the fame he left.” 

Story XIX. 

They relate that once, during a hunting expedition, ' 
they were preparing for Nushlrwan the Just some game, 
as roast meat. There was no salt ; and they despatched 
a slave to a village to bring some. Nushlrwan said, 
“Pay for the salt you take, in order that it may not 
become a custom, and the village be ruined.” They said, 
“What harm will this little quantity do?” He replied, 
“The origin of injustice in the world was at the first 
small, and every one that came added to it, until it 
reached this magnitude.” 


If but one apple from the peasant’s field 109 
The king should eat, his men uproot the tree ; 

And does the Sultan but his sanction yield 
T’ extort five eggs — his followers will see 
Cause with a thousand pullets to make free . 110 


Not always will the wicked tyrant live ; 

The curse upon him will for aye survive. 

100 Karun is said by Oriental writers to have been the first 
cousin and brother-in-law of Moses, whose sister he is said to 
have married. Moses taught him alchemy, by which he 
acquired vast riches ; but, being called upon by Moses to pay 
a fortieth for religious purposes, he refused, and endeavoured 
to suborn false evidence against the lawgiver, who, therefore, 
caused him to be swallowed up by the earth. 

100 In the original the word is bagh, “garden.” 

110 In the original, “ put on the spit.” 



Story XX.. 

I have heard of a revenue-collector who was ruining 
the peasantry in order to fill the treasury of the Sultan, 
in ignorance of that saying of the wise, which they have 
uttered : “ Whosoever afflicts the creatures of the Most 
High God in order to win the regard of a creature, 
the Most High God will raise those same creatures 
against him to destroy him utterly.” 


Flames cannot with such speed wild rue consume, 

As tyrants perish by the wronged heart’s fume. 111 


They say that among all animals the lion is chief, and 
the ass lowest ; and yet the wise are agreed that an ass 
that bears burdens is better than a lion that tears men. 


True, the poor ass is dull ; but then 
For carrying loads ’tis dear to men. 

The carrier ox, the patient ass, 

Man’s tyrant, cruel man surpass. 

Some of his misdeeds became known to the king,- 
who tortured him on the rack, and put him to death, 
with a variety of torments. 


The Sultan’s praise thou canst not gain 
Till thou canst win his people’s heart : 

Wouldst thou God’s pardoning grace obtain ? 

Then to his creatures good impart. 

One of those who had been oppressed by him passed 
near him, and looked on his agonies, and said, 

111 I have advisedly used this expression (though it makes 
but indifferent poetry), as it is the exact equivalent to the 
Persian J J OjO did-i dil. Eoss has a ridiculous mistake here, 
for which see preface to this Translation. 




“Not every one who with strong arm bears sway, 
Can boast of his extortions in the end ; 

To swallow the rough bone thou mayst some way 
Devise ; but once permit it to descend 
Down to the navel, ’twill thy belly rend.” 

Story XXI. 

They relate that an oppressor smote a pious man on 
the head with a stone. The darwesh had not power to 
retaliate ; but he kept the stone carefully beside him 
until a season when the king was wroth with that 
officer, 11 ® and confined him in a pit. The darwesh came 
and smote him on the head with that stone. He said, 
“ Who art thou ? and why hast thou struck me on the 
head with the stone?” The darwesh replied, “I am 
such a one, and this stone is the same which, on such 
a day, thou didst cast at me.” The other rejoined, 
“ Where hast thou been this long while ? ” The 
darwesh answered, “ I was awed by thy rank ; now 
that I behold thee in this dungeon I took advantage 
of the opportunity: as the wise have said, 


‘ Seest thou that fortune crowns the unworthy P — then 
Choose thou submission too, with wiser men . 113 

lu Ross makes a curious mistake here, which is adverted 
to in the preface to this Translation, q.v. M. Semelet prefers 
reading, instead of 5 j> bar lashkari, tjJ bar a, 

but as it occurs a few lines before in the preceding story, 
and in a similar description, I should retain it. 

lu M. Semelet rightly observes that there is an ellipse 
here, which I have supplied by the words “Choose thou,” 
and a slight modification of the sense of the second line. 



Hast thou not sharp and rending claws ? then yield — 

For so ’tis best — to beasts, the battle-field. 

He that has grappled with a hand of steel 

Will, in his silver 114 arm, the anguish feel : 

Wait thou till fortune shall his arm restrain ; 

Then, at thy will, thou mayst thy foeman brain.’ ” 

Story XXII. 

A certain king had a horrible disease, to repeat a 
description of which would not be agreeable. A body 
of Greek physicians unanimously decided that there was 
no remedy for the pain except the gall of a man possessed 
of certain qualities. The king ordered search to be made 
for him. They found a peasant-boy with the qualities 
which the physicians had mentioned. The king sent for 
his father and mother, and, by immense presents, made 
them content ; and the KazI gave his decision that 
it was lawful to shed the blood of one of the subjects 
to save the king’s life. The executioner prepared to put 
him to death. The boy looked up to heaven and smiled. 
The king asked, “ In this condition what place is there 
for laughter?” The boy replied, “Fathers and mothers 
are wont to caress their offspring, and complaints are 
carried before the KazI, and justice is sought from kings; 
yet now my father and mother have, for the sake of 
worldly trifles, delivered me over to death, and the 
KazI has given his sentence for my execution, and the 
Sultan looks for his own recovery in my destruction ; 
save God Most High I have none to protect me. 


Where shall I from thy hand for succour flee ? 

’Gainst thine own power I’ll justice seek from thee.” 
The king’s heart was touohed by these words ; he wept, 

114 simln, “ silvery,” is often used to signify “ delicate,’’ 

when applied to the human form. 


and said, “ It is better for me to perish than to shed 
innocent blood.” He kissed his head and eyes, embraced 
him, bestowed on him abundant presents, and set him 
free. They say, too, that the king recovered that same 


Just thus that couplet I recall, as said, 

On the Nile’s bank, he of the elephant: 

‘ Wouldst thou know what the ant feels ’neath thy tread ? 

Think if on thee my beast its foot should plant ! ’ 

Story XXIII. 

One of the slaves of AmrOlais 115 had run away. Some 
persons went in pursuit of him, and brought him back. 
The vazlr bore him a grudge. He gave a sign to put 
him to death, that the other slaves might be deterred 
from acting similarly. ^ The slave touched the ground 
with his head before Amru, and said, 


“ Whate’er befalls me is most just, if thou think’st fit : 
Command is thine ; why should thy slave complain of it ? 

However, inasmuch as I have been reared by the bounty 
of thy family, I do not wish that in the resurrection 
thou shouldst be made to answer for my blood. If, 
then, thou desirest to put thy slave to death, at least 
do so in conformity with the law, that thou mayst not 
be called to account at the resurrection.” The king 
asked, “ How am I to interpret the law ? ” He replied, 
“ Grant me permission to slay the vazlr, after which, in 
retaliation for his death, thou mayst order me to be 
executed.” The king laughed, and said to the vazlr, 
“ What dost thou advise ? ” He answered, “ Sire ! for 
the sake of the tomb of thy father, set free this rascal, 

1,1 The second Sultan of the dynasty of the Saffarides, who 
reigned in Pars, A.H. 267. 



that he may not plunge me also into misfortune. The 
fault is mine for slighting that saying of the wise, 
which they have thus delivered : 


* When with a practised slinger thou wouldst fight, 
Thou by thy folly thine own head wilt break : 

Ere ’gainst thy foe thine arrow wings its flight, 

See thou beyond his range position take.’ ” 

Stoey XXIV. 

A king of Zuzan 116 had a minister 117 of a beneficent 
disposition, and gracious presence, who was courteous to 
all, when in their company, and spoke well of them 
behind their backs. It happened that he did something 
which was disapproved in the sight of the king; who 
ordered him to be amerced and punished. The officers 
of the monarch were sensible of his former kindnesses, 
and pledged to requite them. Wherefore, while he was 
under their custody, they treated him with courtesy and 
attention, and forbore to inflict on him harshness or 


Wouldst thou with foes have peace P whenever then 
Thy enemy thee slanders absent, thou 
To his face applaud him. Since evil men 

Must 118 speak, and thou lov’st not their gall; fill now 
Their mouths with sweets ; thus them to speak allow. 

118 Ross strangely translates this. “ King Zuzan ; ” on what 
ground I am at a loss to conjecture. I concur with M. Semelet, 
Gladwin, and Gentius, in regarding Zuzan as the name 
of a city, either in Khurasan, between Hirat and Mshapur, or 
in Khuzistan, in which case it would be the capital of the 
Susiana of the Greeks. 

U7 We may so render jchwujah, as is evident from 

the context. Perhaps, however, it may mean “eunuch.” 

118 Instead of »ukhan-i dkhir, I am clearly of 



He acquitted himself of a portion of that which 
furnished matter for the king's orders’ 19 respecting him, 
and remained in prison for the rest. One of the neigh- 
bouring princes sent a secret message to him to the 
following effect : “ The worth of such excellence [as 
thine] has not been appreciated by the sovereigns of those 
parts ; nay, it has been rewarded with disgrace. If the 
precious mind of such a one ( may God prosper him at the 
last !) should incline towards us, the utmost endeavours 
will be used to show him respect ; for the nobles of this 
country will rejoice to see him ; and await an answer to 
this letter.” When the minister was acquainted with the 
purport of the letter, he was alarmed at his danger, lest, 
if it should become known, some disastrous results might 
take place. He immediately wrote a short answer, as he 
thought advisable, on the back of the letter, and sent it 
off. One of the king’s attendants was apprised of this 
circumstance, and informed the king of it, saying, “ Such 
a one, whom thou commandedst to be imprisoned, holds 
a correspondence with the neighbouring princes.” The 
king was incensed, and ordered inquiry to be made 
into the matter. They seized the courier, and read his 
despatches. These were written to this effect: “The 
favourable opinion of your Highnesses exceeds your 
servant’s merits, and it is impossible for him to accept 
the offer which you have condescended to make, inas- 
much as he has been nurtured by the fostering care of 
this royal house ; and, for a slight withdrawal of favour, 

opinion that we ought to read ^>-1 sukhan dkhir, and 

render the words as above. Why should the “ last word ” 
be the only one that needs sweetening? 

119 Several passages, among which this is one, prove that 
the meaning “reproof,” “censure,” ought to be admitted 
into the dictionaries under the word khi(al. 



he cannot act ungratefully towards his benefactor : since 
they have said, 


' He whose unceasing favours are bestowed on thee, 
Excuse his life’s sole act of tyranny.’ ” 

The king was pleased with his gratitude. He bestowed 
on him rewards, and a dress of honour, and asked his 
forgiveness, saying, “ I have committed a mistake, and I 
have made thee suffer though innocent.” He replied, 
“ Sire ! your slave sees no fault in you in this matter ; 
but the decree of God Most High was so that evil should 
befal this slave ; wherefore it is better it should come 
from your hand, since you possess the claim of former 
benefits conferred upon him, and of innumerable kind- 
nesses : and the sages have said, 


‘ Art thou by creatures injured ? — do not grieve ; 

None joy or pain from creatures e’er receive. 

Know that by God both friends and foes are given 
Yes ! for the hearts of both are swayed by Heaven. 
What though the arrows from the bowstring fly, 

The wise well know the archer’s agency.’ ” 

Story XXV. 

One of the Arabian kings commanded the officers of 
his exchequer to double the allowance of a certain person, 
whatever it might be, saying, “He is regular in atten- 
dance at court, and ready at command ; while the other 
servants are all engaged in amusements, and neglect 
their duty.” A wise person heard it, and said, “ The ele- 
vation of the different ranks of creatures in the court of 
God (may He be honoured and glorified ! ) is analogous 
to this.” 




If for two mornings one attends the king, 

Doubtless the third a favouring glance will bring : 

So in God’s court ; who worship truly there 
Hope to be not excluded in despair. 


Greatness consists in bowing to God’s will ; 

Rebellion proves thee baffled, outcast still. 

Who bears impressed the tokens of the just, 

Will place his head submissive in the dust. 


Story XXVI. 

They relate of an oppressor that he purchased fire-wood 
of poor men by force and gave it to the rich gratuitously. 120 
A devout person passed by him and said, 


“ Art thou a serpent that all travellers stings ? 

Or owl, that where it lights, destruction brings ? 


Grant that thy violence may with us prevail, 

With the all- seeing God ’twill surely fail. 

Beware, lest earth’s much injured sons be driven 

To raise ’gainst thee their suppliant voice to heaven.” 

The tyrant was wroth at these words, and frowned, and 
heeded him not, until one night when fire spread from the 
kitchen to the stack of wood, and consumed all his 
property, and from a soft bed removed him to glowing 
ashes. It happened that the same devout person passed 
by. He heard him say to his friends, “ I know not 

So I feel bound to render this most obscure sentence, in 
which I follow Gladwin, 31. Semelet and Eoss translate it 
differently, but I believe on no other authority than their 
own conjectures. As ^ bi (arh is “ rude,” so la 

tar \ i may be “ graciously.” 



whence this fire broke out in my bouse.” He replied, 
“ From tbe smoke 121 of tbe hearts of the poor.” 


Beware of tbe sigh of tbe wounded heart, 

For tbe secret sore you’ll too late discern ; 

Grief, if thou canst, to no bosom impart, 

For the sigh of grief will a world o’ertum, 


On the crown of king Kaikhusrau was written, 


How long shall men my buried dust tread down ? 
Through many a lengthening year and distant day. 

From hand to hand to me descends this crown, 

To others so, it soon will pass away. 

Story XXVII. 

A person had reached perfection in the art of wrestling. 
He knew three hundred and sixty precious sleights in 
this art, and every day he wrestled with a different 
device. However, his heart was inclined towards the 
beauty of one of his pupils. He taught him three 
hundred and fifty-nine throws, all he knew save one, 
the teaching of which he deferred. The youth was 
perfect in skill and strength, and no one could with- 
stand him, till he at length boasted before the Sultan 
that he allowed the superiority of his master over him 
only out of respect to his years, and what was due to 
him as an instructor, and that but for that he was not 
inferior in strength, and on a par with him in skill. 
The king was displeased at his breach of respect, and 
he commanded them to wrestle. A vast arena was 
selected. The great nobles and ministers of the king 
attended. The youth entered, like a furious elephant, 

m That is, “ from their sighs.” 



with a shock that had his adversary been a mountain of 
iron would have uptom it from its base. The master 
perceived that the young man was his superior in 
strength. He fastened on him with that curious grip 
which he had kept concealed from him. The youth 
knew not how to foil it. The preceptor lifted him 
with both hands from the ground, and raised him above 
his head, and dashed him on the ground. A shout 
of applause arose from the multitude. The king com- 
manded them to bestow a robe of honour and reward 
on the master, and heaped reproaches on the youth, 
saying, “ Thou hast presumed to encounter him who 
educated thee, and thou hast failed.” He replied, 
“ Sire ! my master overcame me, not by strength or 
power, but a small point was left in the art of wrestling 
which he withheld from me ; and by this trifle he has 
to-day gotten the victory over me.” The preceptor 
said, “ I reserved it for such a day as this ; for the 
sages have said, * Give not thy friend so much power 
that if one day he should become a foe, thou mayst not 
be able to resist him.’ Hast thou not heard what once 
was said by one who had suffered wrong from a pupil 
of his own P 


‘ On earth there is no gratitude, I trow ; 

Or none, perhaps, to use it now pretend. 

None learn of me the science of the bow, 

Who make me not their target in the end.’ ” 

Story XXVIII. 

A solitary darwesh had fixed himself in the comer of a 
desert. A king passed by him. The darwesh, inasmuch 
as cessation from wordly pursuits is the kingdom of 
content, raised not up his head, and heeded him not. 
The king, through the domineering character of royalty, 



was offended, and observed, “ This tribe of tatterdemalions 
is on a level with brutes.” The vazlr said, “ The king of 
earth’s surface passed near thee ; why didst thou not do 
him homage, and perform thy respects?” He replied, 
“ Tell the king to look for service from one who expects 
favours from him, and let him also know that kings are 
for the protection of their subjects, not subjects for the 
service of kings: as they have said, 


‘ Kings are but guardians, who the poor should keep ; 
Though this world’s goods wait on their diadem. 

Hot for the shepherd’s welfare are the sheep : 

The shepherd rather is for pasturing them. 


To-day thou markest one flushed with success ; 

Another sick with struggles ’gainst his fate : 

Pause but a little while, the earth shall press 
His brain that did such plans erst meditate. 

Lost is the difference of king and slave. 

At the approach of destiny’s decree : 

Should one upturn the ashes of the grave. 

Could he discern ’twixt wealth and poverty ? ’ ” 

The discourse of the darwesh made a strong impression 
on the king. He said, “ Ask a boon of me.” The 
darwesh replied, “ I request that thou wilt not again 
disturb me.” On this the king rejoined, “ Give me some 
piece of advice.” He said, 


“ How that thy hands retain these blessings, know — 

This wealth, these lands, from. hand to hand must go.” 

Story XXIX. 

A vazir went to ZuT-nun , 122 of Egypt, and requested the 

m Gentius tells us that there were two Zu’l-nuns : one, the 
prophet Jonah, who lived about 862 B.C. ; and the other, 


aid of his prayers, saying, “ I am day and night employed 
in the service of the Sultan, hoping for his favour, and 
dreading his wrath.” Zu’l-nun wept, and said, “ If I 
had feared the Most High God as thou dost the Sultan, I 
should have been of the number of the just.” 


Could the holy darwesh cease from worldly joy and sorrow. 
On the sky his foot would be ; 

And the vazir for himself angelic light would borrow, 
Served he God as royalty. 123 

Story XXX. 

A king gave an order to put an innocent person to 
death. He said, “ 0 king ! for the anger which thou 
feelest against me, seek not thine own injury ! ” The 
king asked, “ How so ? ” He replied, “ I shall suffer 
this pang but for a moment, and the guilt of it will 
attach to thee for ever.” 


Circling on, life’s years have fled, as flies the breeze of mom ; 
Sadness and mirth, and foul and fair, for aye have 
passed away. 

Dream’ st thou, tyrant! thou hast wreaked on me thy 
rage and scorn? 

The burthen from my neck has passed, on thine must 
ever stay. 

Suban, who, being in a vessel, was accused of stealing a very 
valuable pearl, and invoked God’s aid to establish his innocence, 
whereupon the pearl was discovered in a fish. The person here 
alluded to is Abu Fazl Suban bin Ibrahim, a celebrated 
Muhammadan saint, chief of the Sufis, who died in Egypt, 
A.H. 245. 

m There is a very elegant turn in the original, which cannot 
be imitated in English : malik is “ a king,” and , * 

malak ‘‘an angel.” 



This admonition of his operated advantageously on the 
king, and he forbore to shed his blood, and asked pardon 
of him. 

Story XXXI. 

The vazirs of Nushlrwan were consulting on a matter 
connected with State affairs, and each delivered his 
opinions in accordance with what he judged best. The 
king also took part in their deliberations. Buzurchimihr 
adopted the opinion of the king. The vazirs said to him 
privately, “What superiority didst thou discern in the 
king’s opinion above the counsels of so many sage 
persons ? ” He replied, “ In that the end of the affair 
is unknown, and the opinions of all depend on the will 
of the Most High God, whether they turn out just or 
erroneous. Wherefore it is better to conform to the 
monarch’s opinion, that, should it turn out unfavourably, 
our obsequiousness will secure us from his reproaches. 


Opinions, differing from the king, to have ; 

Is your own hands in your own blood to lave. 

Should he affirm the day to be the night. 

Say you behold the moon and Pleiads’ light.” 

Story XXXII. 

A traveller 184 twisted his ringlets , 185 saying, “I am a 

124 In my edition, I read in accordance with four MSS. 
saiyahl, instead of the (_^ohA shaiyadi, which 
M. Semelet, Gladwin, and Ross prefer. The sense of the latter, 
“an impostor,” is certainly more suitable to the context, but 
then it does not occur in the dictionaries, and is contrary to 
the MSS. 

1M This implies merely a swaggering air, as we say, “ twirled 
his moustache.” I do not believe that the descendants of 
All have any particular way of wearing the hair, though there 
is a difference in their turbans and the colour of their clothes. 



x. t 

descendant of AH,” and entered the city along with the 
caravan from Hijaz, giving out that he had come from 
the pilgrimage to Makkah; and produced an idyl before 
the king, affirming it to be his own. One of the king's 
counsellors had that year returned from travelling. He 
said, “ I saw him in Basrah , 1 * 6 at the festival of Azha ; 127 
how, then, can he have come from the pilgrimage to 
Makkah?” Another said, “His father was a Christian 
in Halatiyah ; 128 how should he be a descendant of All ? ” 
His verses were found in the Diwan 1 * 9 of Anvar !. 150 
The king ordered him to be beaten and sent him away, 
saying, “ Why hast thou uttered so many falsehoods ? ” 
He replied, “ Lord of earth’s surface ! I will speak one 
word more, and if it be not true, I am worthy of any 
punishment that thou mayest command.” The king 
inquired, “ What is that?” He replied, 


“ Curds , 131 which to thee a poor man brings, will prove, 
Water, two cups ; and buttermilk, one spoon. 

Let not my idle tales thine anger move, 

For, from a traveller, lies thou'lt hear full soon.” 

*" A seaport town in the Persian Gulf. 

m The Id, or festival of Azha, is held by the Muhammadans 
on the tenth day of the month Zi’l-bajj, which is the last of the 
Musalman year. It is celebrated in honour of the offering up 
of Ishmael by Abraham, for the Muhammadans pretend that he, 
and not Isaac, was to be the sacrifice. — Vide Kanun-I Islam, 

p. 226 . 

138 Malta. 

1M A poem, consisting of a series of odes, of which the first 
class terminate with 1 a, the second with <__> b, and so on 
through the alphabet. 

130 A celebrated Persian poet, who died A.H. 577= A.D. 1200. 
He was patronized by Sultan Sanjar, of the Saljuk family. 

m This alludes to the practice in Persia of breakfasting on a 
cup of curds and bread, •with a slice of cheese or melon. 



The king laughed and said, “ In thy life thou never 
saidst a truer word than this.” He then cominanded 
the usual allowance for descendants of the Prophet to be 
got ready for him. 

Story XXXIII. 

They have related that a certain vazlr was compassionate 
to his inferiors, and studied the welfare of all. It hap- 
pened that he fell under the king’s displeasure. All 
exerted themselves to obtain his release ; and those who 
had the custody of him alleviated his punishment ; and 
the other nobles spoke of his good qualities to the king, 
so that the king forgave his fault. A sage heard of this, 
and said, 


“ To gain thy friends’ affection, 

Sell the garden of thy sire ; 

To give them food, protection, 

With thy goods go feed the fire. 

Shew kindness even to thy foes ; 

The dog’s mouth with a morsel close. ” isa 

Story XXXIV. 

One of the sons of Harunu’r-rashld ISS came to his 
father in a passion, saying, “Such an officer's son has 
insulted me, by speaking abusively of my mother.” 

135 I have been compelled to translate these lines freely, metri 
caund. The literal version is, for the third and fourth lines, 
“to cook the pot of thy well-wishers, it is better to burn all 
thy household furniture.” The other lines are more literally 
rendered, save that each second line ends with a rhyming 
participle, which cannot be carried out in English. 

153 That is, “ Harun the Just.” He began to reign A.H. 170, 
and was the fifth Khali fah of the house of Abbas. He sent 
presents to Charlemagne, and, like him, divided his empire 
among his three sons. 



HarDn said to his nobles, “ What should be the punish- 
ment of such a person ? ” One gave his voice for 
death, and another for the excision of his tongue, and 
another for the confiscation of his goods and banish- 
ment. Harun said, “ 0 my son ! the generous part 
would be to pardon him, and if thou canst not, then 
do thou abuse his mother, but not so as to exceed the 
just limits of retaliation, for in that case we should 
become the aggressors.” 


They that with raging elephants make war 
Are not, so deem the wise, the truly brave ; 

But in real verity, the valiant are 

Those who, when angered, are not passion’s slave. 134 


An ill-bred fellow once a man reviled. 

Who patient bore it, and replied, “ Good friend ! 

Worse am I than by thee I could be styled. 

And better know how often I offend.” 

Story XXXV. 

I was seated in a vessel along with some persons of 
distinction. A barge, which was in our wake, went 
down, and two brothers were plunged into the vortex. 
One of the great personages said to the boatman, “ Save 
those two, and I will give thee a hundred dinars.” 
The boatman plunged into the water and rescued one. 
The other perished. I said, “ He was destined not to 
survive, wherefore thou earnest too late to get hold of 
him.” The boatman laughed, and said, “ What thou 
sayest is most true, and, besides, my mind was more 
set on saving this one, because once when I was ex- 
hausted in the desert he set me on his camel, and I 
had been flogged by the other in my childhood.” I 

m More literally, “ do not speak intemperately.” 


replied, “ The Great God, is righteous ! for every one who 
does well benefits his own soul; and every one that sinneth, 
sinneth against himself.” 


Strive not to pain a single heart, 

Nor by that thorny pathway move. 

But with the needy aye take part ; 

To thee, too, this will succour prove. 

Story XXXVI. 

There were two brothers, one of whom served the 
Sultan, and the other obtained his bread by his manual 
labour. Once on a time the rich one said to the poor 
one, “ Why dost thou not serve the Sultan, by which 
thou mayst escape from thy toilsome work ? ” He 
replied, “ Why dost thou not work in order to free 
thyself from the disgrace of being a servant? since 
the sages have said, ‘ It is better to eat barley bread, 
and sit on the ground, than to gird oneself with a 
golden girdle, and stand up to serve.' ” 


Better from lime make mortar with thy hand, 

Than before chiefs with folded arms to stand. 


Life, precious life, has been in pondering spent 
On summer clothing and on winter food. 

0 glutton belly ! let one loaf content 

Thee, rather than the back [in slavish mood] 

Be to the ground in others’ service bent. 

Story XXXVII. 

A person brought to Nushirwan the Just good news, 
saying, “God [m&y he be honoured and glorified!] has 
removed such and such an enemy of thine.” He re- 
plied, “ Hast thou heard at all that he will spare me ? ” 




In my foe’s death, what joy is there for me ? 

For my life, too, cannot eternal be. 


A council of wise men at the court of Kisra 1 * 5 was 
discussing a certain matter. Buzurchimihr was silent. 
They said, “ Why dost thou not deliver thy opinion with 
us in this consultation ? ” He replied, “ Yazirs are like 
physicians : and the physican does not give medicine save 
to the sick. Wherefore, when I see that your opinion is 
right, it would not be wise for me to interfere therein 
with my voice.” 


Without my med dlin g, if a thing succeed, 

For me to give advice therein, what need ? 

But if I see a blind man and a pit, 

Why, then, I’m guilty if I silent sit. 

Story XXXIX. 

When Harunu’r-rashid had conquered Egypt, he said, 
“In contradiction to that impious rebel 136 who, through 
pride of having Egypt for his kingdom, laid claim to 
divine honours, I will give this province to none but the 
lowest of my slaves.” He had a black slave of great 
stupidity, whose name was Khusaib ; on him he bestowed 
the land of Egypt. They say that his intellect and 
capacity were so limited that when a body of Egyptian 
cultivators complained to him that they had sown cotton 
on the banks of the Nile, and that, owing to an unseason- 
able fall of rain, it had been destroyed ; he replied, “ You 

155 Kisra or Chosroes, as the Arabs styled the Persian kings 
of the Sassanian race, is here used for Nushlrwan. 

13 Pharaoh is here meant 


7 * 

ought to sow wool, that it might not be swept away.” A 
sage heard it and said, 


“ If with your wisdom grew your store, 

The fool would he the truly poor ; 

But Heaven to the fool supplies 

Such wealth as would amaze the wise.” m 


Fortune and wealth are not to merit given : 

Hone can obtain them but by aid from Heaven. 

In this world oft a marvel meets our eyes ; 

The undiscerning honoured, scorned the wise. 

The alchymist expires with grief and pain, 

And fools a treasure ’neath a shed obtain. 

Story XL. 

They had brought a Chinese girl, of surpassing beauty 
and loveliness, to an Arabian king. In a moment of 
intoxication he attempted to embrace her. The damsel 
resisted him. The king was enraged, and bestowed her 
on one of his slaves, who was a negro, and whose upper 
lip ascended above his nostrils, and whose lower lip hung 
down on his collar. His form was such that the demon 
Sakhr would have fled at his appearance. 


In him th’ extreme of ugliness was found, 

As beauty to all time fair Joseph crowned. 


Not such his person that description can 
His hideous aspect typify ; 

The fetor [save us !] from him foully ran 
Like carrion sun-baked in July. 

At that season the passions of the negro were roused, 

131 In the original it is “a hundred wise men.” 

7 1 


and lie was overpowered by lust. Agitated by desire be 
deflowered ber. In tbe morning, tbe king sought for the 
girl and could not find her. They told him what bad 
happened. He was incensed, and commanded that they 
should bind the negro and the girl fast together by their 
hands and feet, and cast them from the roof of the palace 
into the fosse. One of the vazirs, who was of a bene- 
volent disposition, bent down his face in intercession to 
the ground and said, “ The negro is not to blame in this 
matter; for all your Majesty’s slaves and attendants are 
accustomed to your royal bounty.” The king said, “What 
great difference would it have made had he forborne to 
meddle with her for a night P ” The vazlr replied, “ Sire ! 
hast thou not heard what they have said, 


‘When to a limpid fountain one parched with thirst 

Think not a raging elephant him would scare ; 

Or, when alone, an infidel sees meat with famished 

Can reason think he’d pause for the fast-day there. ’ ” 
The king was pleased with this pleasantry, and said, “ I 
give thee the negro ; but what shall I do with the girl ? ” 
He replied, “ Give the girl to the negro ; for his leavings 
are fit only for himself.” 


Never take him for thy friend 

Who goes where it beseems him not : 

The purest water will offend 
The thirstiest lips, if it be got 
From one whose breath is foul and hot. 


Ne’er will the orange from the Sultan’s hand 
Once in the dunghill fallen, more there rest : 
Though thirsty, none will water e’er demand, 

When ulcerated lips the jar have pressed. 



Story XLI. 

They said to Alexander of Rum, “ How didst thou 
conquer the eastern and western worlds, when former 
kings surpassed thee in treasures, and territory, and long 
life, and armies, and yet did not obtain such victories?” 
He replied, “By the aid of the Most High God. Whenever 
I subdued a country I did not oppress its inhabitants, and 
I never spoke disparagingly of its kings.” 


Ne’er will he be called great among the wise, 

Who to the truly great their name denies. 


These are no more than trifles, swiftly sped, 

Fortune and throne, command and conquest — all. 

Destroy not thou the good name of the dead. 

That thy fame, too, may last and never fall. 

7 + 



Story I. 

A person of distinction asked a holy man, “What 
sayest thou with regard to a certain devotee ; for others 
have spoken sneeringly of him ? ” He replied, “ In his 
outward conduct I discern no fault, and I know nothing 
of his secret defects.” 


When thou dost one in saintly vestments find, 

Doubt not his goodness or his sanctity. 

What though thou knowest not his inmost mind ? 
Not within doors need the Muhtasib 138 pry. 

Story II. 

I once saw a darwesh, who, with his head resting on 
the threshold of the temple at Makkah, called the Kabah, 
was weeping and saying, “ 0 Thou merciful and com- 
passionate One ! Thou knowest what homage can be 
offered by a sinful and ignorant being worthy of thee ! ” 13 ® 

138 The Muhtasib is the Muhammadan superintendent of 
police, who prevents drunkenness, gaining, and other disorders ; 
but, as appears from this passage, his business is rather to enforce 
external decency, than to suppress latent immorality. 

139 That is, “ The homage of a sinful being cannot be worthy 
of God.” 




For my scant service I would pardon crave, 

Since on obedience I can ground no claim. 

Sinners, of sin repent ; but those who have 
Knowledge of the Most High, at pardon aim 
• For worthless worship [which they view with shame]. 

The pious seek the reward of their obedience, and 
merchants look for the price of their wares, and I, thy 
servant, have brought hope, not obedience, and have come 
to beg, not to traffic. “ Do unto me that which is worthy of 
Thee , and not that of which I am worthy .” 


Whether Thou wilt slay or spare me, at Thy door my head 
1 iay; 

To the creature will belongs not, Thy commandment I 


A supplicant at Makkah’s shrine who wept 
Full piteously and thus exclaimed, I saw ; 

“ I ask Thee not my homage to accept. 

But through my sins Thy pen absolving draw.” 

Story III. 

Abdu’l-Kadir GllanI 140 laid his face on the pebbles in 
the sanctuary of the Kabah, and said, “ 0 Lord ! pardon 
me ; but if I am deserving of punishment, raise me up at 
the resurrection blind, that I may not be ashamed in the 
sight of the righteous.” 


Humbly in dust I bow each day 
My face, with wakening memory, 

0 Thou ! whom I forget not, say, 

Dost Thou bethink Thee e’er of me ? 

140 This saintly personage was a celebrated §uf! of Baghdad, 
under whom S&dl embraced the doctrine of the Mystics. 

7 6 - 


Story IV. 

A thief entered the house of a recluse. However much 
he searched, he found nothing. He turned hack sadly and 
in despair, and was observed by the holy man, who cast 
the blanket on which he slept in the way of the thief, 
that he might not be disappointed. 


The men of God’s true faith, I’ve heard, 

Grieve not the hearts e’en of their foes. 

When will this station he conferred 
On thee who dost thy friends oppose ? 

The friendship of the pure-minded, whether in pre- 
sence or absence, is not such that they will find fault 
with thee behind thy hack, and die for thee in thy 


Before thee like the lamb they gentle are : 

Absent, than savage wolves more ruthless far. 


They who the faults of others bring to you. 

Be sure they’ll hear to others your faults too. 

Story V. 

Certain travellers had agreed to journey together, and 
to share their pains and pleasures. I wished to join 
them. They withheld their consent. I said, “ It is 
inconsistent with the benevolent habits of the eminent 
to avert the countenance from the society of the lowly, 
and to decline to be of service to them ; and I feel in 
myself such power of exertion and energy that in the 
service of men I should be an active friend, not a weight 
on their minds. 




What though I’m borne 141 not in the camel throng, 

Yet will I strive to bear your loads along.” 

One of them said, “ Let not thy heart be grieved at the 
answer thou hast received, for within the last few days, 
a thief came in the guise of a darwesh, and linked himself 
in the chain of our society.” 


What know men of the wearer, though they know the 
dress full well ? 

The letter- writer only can the letter’s purport tell. 

Inasmuch as the state of darweshes is one of security , 142 
they had no suspicion of his meddling propensities, and 
admitted him into companionship. 


Rags are th’ external sign of holiness ; 

Sufficient — for men judge by outward dress. 

Strive to do well, and what thou pleasest, wear ; 

Thy head a crown, thine arm a flag 143 may hear. 
Virtue lies not in sackcloth coarse and sad ; 

Be purely pious, and in satin clad : 

141 There is an attempt here at a pun in the words i 
rukib, “I am riding,” and hdmil, “I am bearing.” 

14:1 This word saldmat, is variously rendered. M. 

Semelet translates it by “une assurance”; Ross by “reve- 
rence ” ; Gladwin by 44 everywhere approved,” renderings 
sufficiently free, one would think, and all of them objective. 
I prefer giving the word a subjective meaning, when it may 
take its natural signification and yet make good sense. 

143 M. Semelet, from a note of M. de Sacy, conjectures 

alam to mean “ a rich dress, worn by the great ; ” or, “ a piece 
of rich stuff worn by kings on the left shoulder.” Gladwin 
and Ross translate as above, and I am content to follow them. 



True holiness consists in quitting vice, 

The world and lust, — not dress ; — let this suffice. 

Let valiant men their breasts with iron plate : 
Weapons of war ill suit the effeminate. 

“ In short, one day, we had journeyed till dusk, and slept 
for the night under a castle’s walls. The graceless thief 
took up the water-pot of one of his comrades, saying that 
he was going for a necessary purpose, and went, in truth, 
to plunder. 


He’d fain with tattered garment for a darwesh pass, 

And makes the Sabah’ s 144 pall the housings of an ass. 

As soon as he had got out of sight of the darweshes he 
scaled a bastion , 149 and stole a casket. Before the day 
dawned, that dark-hearted one had got to a considerable 
distance, and his innocent companions were still asleep. 
In the morning they carried them all to the fortress and 
imprisoned them. From that day we have abjured 
society, and kept to the path of retirement, for, in 
solitude there is safety .” 


When but one member of a tribe has done 
A foolish act, all bear alike disgrace, 

Seest thou how in the mead one ox alone 
Will lead astray the whole herd of a place P 

I said, “ I thank God (may He be honoured and glo- 
rified!) that I have not remained excluded from the 

1,4 First the Khallfahs, then the Sultans of Egypt, and lastly 
those of Constantinople, have been in the habit of sending 
annually to Makkah a rich covering of brocade for the temple 
there, called the Kftbah. 

144 I must confess I consider this reading unsatisfactory, and 
much prefer Dr. Sprenger’s L iarkhl laraft, “he 
went a little distance.” The Doctor has a misprint directly 
after : J for jJ durjl. 




beneficial influences of the darweshes, although I have 
been deprived of their society, and I have derived profit 
from this story, and this advice will be useful to such as 
I am through the whole of life.” 


Be there but one rough person in their train, 

For his misdeeds the wise will suffer pain. 

Should you a cistern with rose-water fill, 

A dog dropped in it would defile it still. 

Story VI. 

A religious recluse became the guest of a king. When 
they sate down to their meals, he ate less than his wont ; 
and when they rose up to pray, he prayed longer than he 
was accustomed to, that they might have a greater opinion 
of his piety. 


0 Arab ! much I fear thou at Makkah’s shrine wilt never 

For the road that thou art going is the road to Tartary. 

When he returned to his own abode he ordered the 
cloth to be laid that he might eat. He had a son 
possessed of a ready wit, who said, “ 0 my father! didst 
thou eat nothing at the entertainment of the Sultan ?” 
He replied, “I ate nothing in their sight to serve a 
purpose.” The son rejoined, “Repeat thy prayers again, 
and make up for their omission, since thou hast done 
nothing that can serve any purpose.” 


Thy merits in thy palm thou dost display ; 

Thy faults beneath thy arm from sight withhold. 

What wilt thou purchase, vain one ! in that day, 

The day of anguish, with thy feigned gold ? 146 

,4 * Literally, “Base silver or coin.” 



Story YII. 

I remember that, in the time of my childhood, I was 
devout, and in the habit of keeping vigils, and eager to 
practise mortification and austerities. One night I sate 
up in attendance on my father, and did not close my eyes 
the whole night, and held the precious Kur’an in my lap 
while the people around me slept. I said to my father, 
“ Not one of these lifts up his head to perform a prayer. 147 
They are so profoundly asleep that you would say they 
were dead.” He replied, “Life of thy father! it were- 
better if thou, too, wert asleep ; rather than thou shouldst 
be backbiting people.” 


Naught but themselves can vain pretenders mark, 

For conceit’s curtain intercepts their view. 

Did God illume that which in them is dark. 

Naught than themselves would wear a darker hue. 148 

Story VIII. 

In a certain assembly they were extolling a person 
of eminence, and going to an extreme in praising his 
excellent qualities. He raised his head, and said, “I 
am that which I know myself to be.” 


Thou who wouldst sum my virtues up, enough thou’lt find 

In outward semblance ; to my secret failings blind. 

w Literally, “A double prayer,” “bin® precationes,” as 
M. Semelet remarks, like “ deux Pater et deux Av6.” 

119 This translation is free. The nominative is throughout in 
the singular, and the last line is literally, “He would see no 
one more wretched than himself.” 


8 ! 


My person, in men’s eyes, is fair to view ; 

But, for my inward faults, shame hows my head. 

The peacock, lauded for his brilliant hue, 

Is by his ugly feet discomfited. 

Story IX. 

One of the holy men of Mount Lebanon, whose dis- 
courses were quoted, and whose miracles were celebrated 
throughout the country of Arabia, came to the principal 
mosque of Damascus, and was performing his ablutions 
on the side of the reservoir of the well. His foot slipped, 
and he fell into the basin, and got out of it with the 
greatest trouble. When prayers were finished, one of his 
companions said, “ I have a difficulty.” The Shekh 
inquired what it was. He replied, “ I remember that 
thou didst walk on the surface of the western sea without 
wetting thy feet, and to-day thou wast within a hair’s 
breadth of perishing in this water, of but one fathom 
depth ; what is the meaning of this ? ” He bent his head 
in the lap of meditation, and after much reflection, raised 
it, and said, “ Hast thou not heard that the Lord of the 
World, Muhammad Mustafa (may the blessing and peace 
of God be upon him !) said, ‘I have a season with God, in 
which neither ministering angel, nor any prophet that has 
been sent, can tie with me,’ but he did not say that this 
season was perpetual. In such a time as he mentioned, 
he was wrapt beyond Gabriel and Michael; and, at 
another time, he was contented with Hafsah 149 and 
Zainab, for the vision of the pious is between effulgence 
and obscurity; at one moment He shews Himself, at 
another snatches Himself from our sight.” 

148 These are the names of two of Muhammad’s wives, of 
which the latter was a Jewess who poisoned him. 




Thou dost Thy face now shew and now conceal, 

Thy worth enhancest, and inflam’st our zeal. 


ril with unintercepted gaze survey 

Him whom I love, and, wildered, lose my way. 

One while a flame He kindles — bright in vain, 

For soon He quenches it with cooling rain ; 

’Tis thus thou seest me burnt, then drowned again. 

Story X. 


To that bereaved father 150 one once said, 

“ Aged sire ! on whose bright soul truth’s light is shed, 
From Egypt his ooat’s scent thy nostrils knew ; 

In Canaan’s pit why was he hid from view ? ” 

“My state,” he said, “ is like heaven’s flashing light : 
One moment shewn, the next concealed in night ; 

Now on the azure vault I sit supreme ; 

In darkness now my own feet hidden seem. 

Did but the darwesh in one state abide. 

He might himself from both worlds aye divide .” 151 

Story XI. 

I once, in the principal mosque of Baalbak , 152 addressed 
a few words, by way of exhortation, to a frigid assembly, 

140 Jacob, — to the story of whose son Joseph, perpetual 
reference is made by the Musalman. 

181 That is, he might attain re-union with the Deity. 

142 Ba&lbak, by the Greeks called Heliopolis, is a city now in 
ruins, situated at the foot of Anti-Libanus, in the direct route 
between Tyre and Palmyra, by traffic with which cities it 
greatly profited. The principal temple, which is of extra- 
ordinary size and beauty, seems to have been built by Antoninus 
Pius. It contains now but 1200 inhabitants. 



whose hearts were dead, and who had not found the way 
from the material to the spiritual world. I saw that my 
speech made no impression on them, and that the flame of 
my ardour did not take effect on their green wood. I felt 
repugnance to continue instructing such mere animals, 
and to holding up a mirror in the district of the blind ; 
however, the gate of my spiritual discourse continued 
open, and the chain of my address was prolonged in 
explanation of the verse, “ We are nearer to him than the 
jugular vein ." 158 1 had brought my discourse to this point, 
when I exclaimed, 


“ Not to myself am I so near as He, 

My friend ; and stranger still, from Him I’m far. 

What can I do ? where tell this mystery ? 

He’s in our arms, yet we excluded are.” 

I was intoxicated with the spirit of this address, and the 
remainder of the cup was in my hands, when, a traveller 
passing by the assembly, my last words 154 made an 
impression upon him. He gave such an applauding shout 
that the others, in sympathy with him, joined in the 
excitement, and the most apathetic of the assembly shared 
his enthusiasm. I exclaimed, “ Praise be to God ! Those 
at a distance who have knowledge of Him are admitted 
into His presence, while those who are at hand, but are 

deprived of vision, are kept aloof.” 


153 This verse of the Kur’an occurs in ch. 1 ., 1. 27, of Sale’s 

144 The translators, in my opinion, have missed the sense of 
jjj daur, which I take to mean not “ ondulation,” according to 
M. Semelet, but “ circle of the cup ” ; the metaphor being still 
kept up, and the last sentence being compared to the last time 
the cup is sent round. 

8 4 



Expect not from that speaker eloquence, 

Whose words his audience c ann ot value well. 
With a wide field of willingness commence, 

Then will the orator the hall 155 propel. 

Story XII. 

One night, in the desert of Makkah, from excessive 
want of sleep, I was deprived of the power of proceeding. 
I reclined my head, and hade the camel-driver leave me 


What distance can the tired footman go. 

When Bactria’s camel faints beneath the load ? 

In the same time that fat men meagre grow, 

The lean will perish on affliction’s road. 

The camel-driver said, “ 0 brother ! the sanctuary 156 is 
before thee, and the robber behind; if thou goest on, 
thou wilt obtain thy object ; if thou sleepest, thou wilt 


Sweet is slumber in the desert under the acacia-tree, 

On the night when friends are marching, but it bodeth 
death to thee. 

Story XIII. 

I saw a devotee on the sea-shore, who had received a 
wound from a leopard, and had been for a long time thus 

There is an equivoque here which cannot be retained in 
English : gui signifies both “ speech,” and “the hall used 

in the game of Chaugan.” 

IM There is a pun here, impossible to render in English, on 
the words haram, “sanctuary,” and harami, “a 

robber.” 1 



afflicted, but could obtain no relief from any medicine, 
and yet incessantly returned thanks to God Most High. 
They asked him, saying, “How is it that thou, who- art 
suffering from this calamity, art returning thanks ? ” He 
replied, “ Praise be to God ! that I am suffering from a 
calamity, and not from a sin.” 


If that loyed One should slay me cruelly, 

Thou shouldst not say, e’en then, I feared to die. 

I’d ask, What fault has Thy poor servant done ? 

’Tis for Thine anger that I grieve, alone. 

Story XIV. 

A darwesh, having some pressing occasion, stole a 
blanket from the house of a friend. The judge ordered 
his hand to be cut off. The owner of the blanket inter- 
ceded for him, saying that he had pardoned him. The 
judge said, “ I shall not desist from carrying out the 
law on account of thy intercession.” He replied, “ Thou 
hast spoken the truth, but it is not necessary to punish 
with amputation one who steals property dedicated to 
pious purposes, for ‘ the fakir does not possess anything, 
and is not possessed by any one.’ Whatever the darwesh 
possesses is for the benefit of the necessitous.” The 
judge released him, and said, “Was the world too narrow 
for thee, that thou must steal nowhere but from the 
house of such a friend?” He replied, “My Lord! hast 
thou not heard the saying, ‘ Make a clean sweep in thy 
friend’s house, but do not even knock at the door of 
thy enemies.’ ” 


Art thou distressed ? yield not to weak despair ; 

Uncloak thy friends, but strip thy foemen bare . 157 

157 Literally, “ strip off their skins.” The second sentiment 
does not agree with the first. 



Story XV. 

A king said to a holy man, “ Dost thou ever remember 
me ? ” He replied, “ Yes ! whenever I forget my God.” 


Those He repels, to every side direct 

Their course — whom he invites, all else reject. 

Story XVI. 

A certain pious man in a dream beheld a king in 
paradise and a devotee in hell. He inquired, “What is 
the reason of the exaltation of the one, and the cause of 
the degradation of the other ? for I had imagined just 
the reverse.” They said, “ That king is now in paradise 
owing to his friendship for darweshes, and this recluse is 
in hell through frequenting the presence of kings.” 


Of what avail is frock, or rosary. 

Or clouted garment ? Keep thyself hut free 

From evil deeds, it will not need for thee 
To wear the cap of felt : a darwesh be 
In heart, and wear the cap of Tartary. 

Story XVII. 

A man on foot, with hare head and bare feet, came 
from Kufah 158 with the caravan proceeding to Hijaz, and 

Kufah is a city on the Euphrates, four days’ journey from 
Baghdad, and so near Basrah that the two towns are called 
the two Basrahs, or the two Kufahs. The Persians assert that 
it was built by Hushang, the second king of the Pishdadyan, 
or second dynasty of Persia. Khondemlr, however, affirms that 
it was founded by Sftd, a general of the Khallfah Omar, 
A.H. 17. The first AbbasI Khallfah made it his capital, and it 
became so extensive that the Euphrates was called 
nahar-i Kufah, “the river of Kufah.” The oldest Arabio 
characters are called Kufic, from this city. 



accompanied us. I looked at him, and saw that he was 
wholly unprovided with the supplies requisite for the 
journey. Nevertheless, he went on merrily, and said, 


“I ride not on a camel, but am free from load and 
trammel ; 

To no subjects am I lord, and I fear no monarch’s word ; 

I think not of the morrow, nor recall the gone-by sorrow, 
Thus I breathe exempt from strife, and thus moves on my 
tranquil life.” 

One who rode on a camel said to him, “ 0 darwesh ! 
whither art thou going ? turn back, or thou wilt perish 
from the hardships of the way.” He did not listen, 
but entered the desert and proceeded on. When we 
reached “the palm-trees of Mahmud,” fate overtook the 
rich man and he died. The darwesh approached his 
pillow, and said, “I have survived these hardships, and 
thou hast perished on the back of thy dromedary.” 


A person wept the livelong night beside a sick man’s bed : 
When it dawned the sick was well, and the mourner, he 
was dead. 


Fleet coursers oft have perished on the way, 

While the lame ass the stage has safely passed ; 

Oft have they laid the vigorous ’neath the clay, 

While the sore-wounded have revived at last. 

Story XYHI. 

A king sent an invitation to a religious man. The 
latter thought to himself, “ I will take a medicine to 
make me look emaciated ; perhaps it may increase the 
good opinion entertained of me.” They relate that he 
swallowed deadly poison, and died. 




He who, pistachio-like, all kernel seemed. 

An onion was ; for fold on fold was there. 

The saint who turns to man to be esteemed, 

Must on the Kiblah 159 turn his back in prayer. 


Who calls himself God’s servant must forego 
All else, and none besides his Maker know. 

Story XIX. 

In the country of the Greeks some banditti attacked a 
caravan, and carried off immense riches. The merchants 
made lamentations and outcries, and called upon God and 
the Prophet to intercede for them, without avail. 


When the dark-minded robber finds success. 

What cares he for the caravan’s distress ? 

The philosopher Lukman was among them. One of 
those who composed the caravan said, “Say some words 
of wisdom and admonition to them ; perchance they may 
restore a portion of our goods ; for it would he a pity 
that such wealth should be lost.” Lukman said, “It 
would be a pity to address the words of wisdom to 

The Kiblah is the point to which men turn in prayer. 
This, among Jews and Christians, is Jerusalem; and when 
Muhammad first ordered his followers to turn to the temple 
at Makkah, it occasioned such discontent that he added a verse, 
to the effect that prayer is heard to whatever quarter the 
supplicant turns. However, Muhammadans now all turn to 
Makkah when praying. 




When rust deep-seated has consumed the steel, 

Its stain will never a new polish own. 

Advice affects not those who c ann ot feel : 

A nail of iron cannot pierce a stone. 


In prosperous days go seek out the distressed ; 

The poor man’s prayer can change misfortune’s course. 
Give when the beggar humbly makes request, 

Lest the oppressor take from thee by force. 

Story XX. 

However much the excellent Sheikh Shamsu’d-dln 
Abu’l-faraj-bin-JauzI 180 commanded me to abandon music, 
and directed me towards retirement and solitude, the 
vigour of my youth prevailed, and sensual desires con- 
tinued to crave. Maugre my will, I went some steps 
contrary to the advice of my preceptor, and enjoyed the 
delights of music and conviviality. When the admoni- 
tions of my master returned to my recollection, I used to 


“E’en the KazI would applaud us, could he of our 
party be ; 

Thou Muhtasib ! quaff the wine-cup, and thou wilt the 
drunkard free.” 

Till one night I joined the assembly of a tribe, and saw 
amongst them a minstrel. 

Ross reads Abu’l-farah, as I felt inclined to do; but 
Gladwin, Semelet, and Sprenger read Abu’l-faraj. He was 
. Sfidi’s preceptor, and was the son of an eminent poet and Bage, 
who died A.H. 597. 




Thou’dst say that through his fiddle-bow thy arteries 
would burst, 

Thau tidings of thy father’s death wouldst own his voice 
more curst. 

The fingers of his friends were at one time stopping 
their ears, at another pressed on their lips, to bid him be 


We haste to music’s sound with stirred and kindling breast. 
But thou a minstrel art, whose silence pleases best. 


One solitary pleasure in thy strains we find, 

’Tis when they cease, we go, and thou art left behind. 


When my shocked ear that lutist’s voice had riven, 
Straight to my host I cried, “ For love of heaven, 

Or with the quicksilver stop my ear, I pray, 

Or ope thy door and let me haste away.” 

However, for the sake of my friends, I accommodated 
myself to the circumstances, and passed the night until 
dawn in this distress. 


Mu’azzin ! 161 why delay thy morning task? 

Know’st thou not how much of the night is sped ? 
Wouldst know its length ? it of my eyelids ask, 

For ne’er has sleep its influence o’er them shed 

1,1 I have here translated somewhat freely. Literally it is, 
“ The mu’azzin raised his voice unseasonably ; he knows not 
how much of the night is passed. Ask the length of the night 
of my eyelashes, for not one moment has sleep passed on my 
eyes.” The mu’azzin is the summoner to prayer, or crier of 
the mosque. I am inclined to think that the free translation 
above represents what Sftdl really intended. 


9 * 

In the morning, by way of a blessing, I took my 
turban from my head, and some dinars 168 from my belt, 
and laid them before the minstrel, and embraced him, 
and returned him many thanks. My friends observed 
that the feeling I evinced towards him was contrary to 
what was usual, and ascribed it to the meanness of my 
understanding, and laughed at me privately. One of 
them extended the tongue of opposition, and began to 
reproach me, saying, “ This thing thou hast done accords 
not with the character of the wise ; thou hast given the 
tattered robe, which is the dress of darweshes, to such 
a musician as has never in his whole life had one diram 163 
in his hand, nor a particle of gold on his drum. 


Such minstrel (from this mansion far be he !) 

As in one place none twice will ever see. 

The moment that his strains his gullet leave, 

The hairs upon his hearer’s flesh upheave. 

The sparrow flies from horror at his note ; 

Our brain he shatters, while he splits his throat.” 

I said, “ It is advisable for you to shorten the tongue 
of reproach, for, to me, his miraculous powers have been 
clearly evinced.” He replied, “ Acquaint me with these 
circumstances, that we may approach him, 164 and ask 
forgiveness for the joke which has been passed.” I 
replied, “ It is by reason of this, because my preceptor 

m The dinar is nearly equal to a ducat or sequin, about nine 
shillings ; but, according to the Xanun-i Islam, only five. 

“* A silver coin, worth, according to some, twopence. 

1,4 Sprenger’B reading of j*-3Uo hamchunln 

takarrub numdlm, seems better than hamkundn 

takarrub. The izafat under the ^ n, of hamkunan, 

in my edition, is a misprint. 



had repeatedly commanded me to give up music, and 
amply advised me, but his words had not entered the 
ear of my acceptance ; to-night, however, my auspicious 
fortune and happy destiny conducted me to this mona- 
stery, where, by means of this musician, I have repented, 
vowing that I will never again betake myself to music 165 
or conviviality.” 


When a sweet palate, mouth, lips, voice, we find. 
Singing or speaking, they’ll enchant the heart ; 
tJshak, Sifahan, Hijaz , 168 all combined, 

From a vile min strel’s gullet pain impart. 

Story XXI. 

They asked Lukman, “Of whom didst thou learn 
manners ? ” He replied, “ From the unmannerly. What- 
ever I saw them do which I disapproved of, that I 
abstained from doing.” 


Not e’en in jest a playful word is said. 

But to the wise, ’twill prove a fruitful theme. 
To fools, a hundred chapters may be read 

Of grave import ; to them they’ll jesting seem. 

Story XXII. 

They relate that a religious man, in one night, would 

1M The soma, appears to be “ the circular ecstatic dance 
of darweshes.” In my edition, a j tea is omitted between 
sania, and m-lailg* mukhalafat. 

1W The names of three favourite musical modes ; and not even 
these, says S&dT, can please ns if the musician be a bad one. 



eat three pounds 157 of food, and before dawn go through 
the Kur’an in his devotions. A holy man heard of this, 
and said, “If he were to eat half a loaf, and go to sleep, 
he would be a much better man than he is.” 


Keep thou thy inward man from surfeit free, 

That thou, therein, the light of heaven may see. 

Art thou of wisdom void P ’tis that with bread 
Thou ’rt to thy nostrils over- surfeited. 

Story XXIII. 

The divine grace caused the lamp of mercy to shine on 
the path of one lost in sin, so that he entered the circle 
of men of piety. By the happy influence of the society 
of darweshes, and the sincerity of their prayers, his evil 
qualities were exchanged for good ones, and he withdrew 
his hand from sensuality ; and, nevertheless, the tongue 
of calumniators was lengthened with regard to him, to the 
effect that he was, just as before, subject to the same 
habits, and that no confidence could be placed in his 
devotion and uprightness. 


By penitence thou mayst exempted be 

From wrath divine : man’s tongue thou canst not flee. 

He was unable to endure the injustice of their tongues, 
and complained to the superior of his order, and said, 
“ I am harassed by the tongues of men.” His preceptor 

187 In my edition I read nim man, “half a man,” 

the man being, according to Chardin, 51b. 11 oz. ; but the other 
editors, Sprenger, Semelet, etc., read ^ so dah man, “ten 
mam,” or 58 lb. 12 oz., which is surely ridiculous. In India, 
the “man” is = 40 sere, or 80 lbs., which would prove too 
much even for the appetites of these gentlemen. 



wept, and said, “How'canst thou return thanks for this 
blessing, that thou art better than they think thee ? 


How oft, sayest thou, malignant enemies 
Seek to find fault with wretched me ! 

What if to shed thy blood they furious rise, 

Or sit in changeless enmity ? 

Be thou but good, and ill-report despise : 

’Tis better thus than thou shouldst be 
Bad whilst thou seemest good in others’ eyes. 

But, behold me, who am regarded by all as perfection, 
and yet am imperfection itself. 


Had but my deeds been like my words, ah ! then, 

I had 168 been numbered, too, with holy men. 


True, I may be from neighbours’ eyes concealed : 

Ood knows my acts, both secret and revealed. 


I close the door before me against men. 

That my faults may not stand to them confessed : 

Of what avail its bar ’gainst Thee, whose ken 
Sees both the hidden and the manifest ! ” 

Story XXIV. 

I complained to one of our elders that a certain person 
had testified against me that I had been guilty of mis- 

“ 8 The budarm, read by Sprenger and Semelet at the 

end of the second line of this couplet, is much better than the 
mardumi , in my edition. 



conduct . 169 He replied, “Put him to the blush by thy 
virtuous conversation.” 


Walk well, that he who would calumniate 
Thee may naught evil find of which to prate ; 

For when the lute a faithful sound returns, 

It from the minstrel’s hand, what censure earns ! 

Story XXY. 

They asked one of the Shekhs of Damascus, “ What is 
the true state of Sufiism ?” 170 He replied, “Formerly 
they were a sect outwardly disturbed, but inwardly col- 
lected; and at this day they are a tribe outwardly collected 
and inwardly disturbed.” 


While ever roams from place to place thy heart, 

No peacefulness in solitude thou'lt see ; 

Hast thou estates, wealth, rank, the trader’s mart P 
Be thy heart God’s — this solitude may be. 

Story XXVI. 

I remember that one night we had travelled all night 
in a caravan, and in the morning slept on the edge of a 

1M Boss and Gladwin, it appears to me, mistranslate this 
sentence. Sprenger reads, jlj cT* ^ kih 

fulan ba-faH&d-i man guwahl dad, “That a certain person had 
borne witness to my misconduct,” which is obviously not so 
good as the reading in the text. 

m The Sufis are a sect of Muhammadan mystics, whose 
opinions, with regard to the soul, the Deity, and creation, 
very much resemble the esoteric doctrines of the Brahmaps. 
They look upon the soul as an emanation from the Deity, to 
be re-asorbed into its source, and regard that absorption as 
attainable by contemplation. 



forest. A distracted person, who accompanied us on that 
journey, uttered a cry, and took the way to the wilderness, 
and did not rest for a moment. When it was day I said 
to him, “ What state is this ? ” He replied, “ I saw the 
nightingales engaged in pouring forth their plaintive 
strains from the trees, while the partridges uttered their 
cries from the mountains, the frogs from the water, and 
the beasts from the forests. I reflected that it would be 
ungrateful for me to slumber neglectful while all were 
engaged in praising God.” 


But yester mom, a bird with tender strain, 

My reason, patience, sense, endurance stole ; 

A comrade, one most near in friendship’s chain, 

(Perhaps he heard th’ outpourings of my soul), 

Said, “ My belief would ne’er have credited 

That a bird’s voice could make thee thus distraught.” 

“ It fits not well my state as man,” I said, 

“ That birds their God should praise, and I say nought.” 

Story XXYII. 

Once on a time, in travelling through Arabia Petraea, a 
company of devout youths shared my aspirations 171 and 
my journey. They used often to chant and repeat mystic 
verses ; and there was a devotee en route with us, who 
thought unfavourably of the character of darweshes, and 
was ignorant of their distress. When we arrived at the 
palm-grove of the children of Hallal, a dark youth came 
out of one of the Arab families, and raised a voice which 
might have drawn down the birds from the air. I saw 

1,1 There is rather a neat pun in the Persian here, which I 
have made a poor attempt to preserve. hamdam, signifies 

“ breathing together;” a friend:” hamkadam, 

“ stepping together ” ; “ a companion.” 



the camel of the devotee begin to caper, and it threw its 
rider, and ran off into the desert. I said, “0 Shekh ! it has 
moved a brute, does it not create any emotion in thee ? ” 


Knowest thou what said the bird of mom, the nightingale, 
to me ? 

“ What meanest thou that art unskilled in love’s sweet 
mystery ? 

The camels, at the Arab’s song, ecstatic are and gay ; 
Feel’st thou no pleasure, then thou art more brutish far 
than they ! ” 


When e’en the camels join in mirth and glee, 

If men feel naught, then must they asses be. 

Before the blast the balsams 172 bend in the Arab’s garden 173 
lone ; 

Those tender shrubs their boughs incline ; naught yields the 
hard firm stone. 


All things thou seest still declare His praise ; 

The attentive heart can hear their secret lays. 

Hymns to the rose the nightingale His name ; 

Each thorn’s a tongue His marvels to proclaim. 

Story XXYIII. 

A king had reached the close of his life, and had no 
heir to succeed him. He made a will, that they should 
place the royal crown on the head of the first person 
who might enter the gates of the city in the morning, 

1,8 The ^ 1 ) ban is the myrobolan, whence is obtained the fine 
balsam, called Benjamin, or Benzoin. 

1,3 M. Semelet informs us that the 1^4, >. hama is the space 
enclosed by the nomadic Arab for his use. 



and should confide the government to him. It happened 
that the first person who entered the city- gate was a 
beggar, who throughout his whole life had collected 
scrap after scrap, and sewn rag upon rag. The Pillars 
of the State, and ministers of the late king, executed 
his will, and bestowed on him the country and the trea- 
sure. The darwesh carried on the government for a time, 
when some of the great nobles turned their necks from 
obeying him, and the princes of the surrounding countries 
rose up on every side to oppose him, and arrayed their 
armies against him. In short, his troops and his subjects 
were thrown into confusion, and a portion of his territory 
departed from his possession. The darwesh was in a state 
of dejection at this circumstance, when one of his old 
friends, who was intimate with him in the time of his 
poverty, returned from a journey, and, finding him in 
this exalted position, said, “ Thanks be to God (may He 
be honoured and glorified !) that thy lofty destiny has 
aided thee, and thy auspicious fortune has led thee on, 
so that thy rose has come forth from the thorn, and the 
thorn from thy foot, and thou hast arrived at this rank, 
‘ surely with calamity comes rejoicing 174 

The bud now blossoms ; withered now is found : 

The tree now naked ; now with leaves is crowned.” 

He replied, “ 0 brother ! condole with me ; for there is 
no room for felicitation. When thou sawest me, I was 
distressed for bread, and now I have the troubles of a 
world upon me.” 


Have we no wordly gear — ’tis grief and pain : 

Have we it — then its charms our feet enchain. 

Can we than this a plague more troublous find, 
Which absent, present, still afflicts the mind ? 

n * “After pain comes pleasure;” “ Apr&s la peine le plaisir.” 




Wouldst thou be rich, seek but content to gain ; 

For this a treasure is that ne’er will harm. 

If in thy lap some Dives riches rain, 

Let not thy heart with gratitude grow warm ; 175 

For, by the wisest, I have oft been told, — 

The poor man’s patience better is than gold. 


A locust’s leg, the poor ant’s gift, is more 

Than the wild ass dressed whole from Bahrain's 176 store. 

Story XXIX. 

A person had a friend who was filling the office of 
Diwan . 117 A long interval had passed without his 
happening to see him. Some one said, “It is a long 
time since thou sawest such a one.” He replied, “ Neither 
do I wish to see him.” By chance one of the Diwan’ s 
people was there ; he asked, “ What fault has he 
committed that thou art indisposed to see him ? ” He 
answered, “ There is no fault ; but the time for seeing a 
Diwan is when he is discharged from his office.” 


While office lasts, amid the cares of place, 

The great can well dispense with friendship’s train ; 

But in the day of sorrow and disgrace, 

They come for pity to their friends again. 

174 I have been obliged to render this line freely. Literally 
it is, “ See that thou dost not regard his recompense.” 

178 Bahram, the sixth of that name, was a king of Persia, 
called Gur, from his fondness for hunting the wild ass. This 
couplet is a sort of Oriental version of the widow’s mite. 

177 Accountant-General, or superintendent of the imperial 



Story XXX. 

Abu Hurairah 178 used every day to wait upon Mustafa 119 
(may tbe blessing and peace of God be upon him !). Tbe 
latter said, “ 0 Abu Hurairab ! visit me less often and thou 
wilt increase our f riendship ; ” 180 that is, “ Come not every 
day, that our attachment may be augmented.” 


They said to a wise man, “ Notwithstanding the kindly 
influence which the sun exerts, we have not heard that 
any one ever regarded it as a friend.” He replied, “ It 
is because we can see it every day except in winter, when 
it is concealed and beloved.” 


There is no harm in visiting a friend ; 

But not so oft that he should say, “ Enough ! ” 

If thou wilt thyself only reprehend. 

Thou wilt not meet from others a rebuff. 

Story XXXI. 

Having become weary of the society of my friends at 

173 That is, “ The father of the kitten.” M. Semelet tells us 
Omar, who succeeded Abu-bakr as Khallfah. was so called, 
because he always carried a kitten on his arm. It was a name 
given him by Muhammad. But we are informed by the 
Kamus that the name is assigned, for no less than thirty different 
reasons, to Abdu’r-rahman bin Sakhr. Abulfeda says, “ Pneterea 
quoque postremum hunc obiit Abu-Horaira de cujus et nomine 
et genere certum non constat. Fuit perpetuus comes et famulus 
prophet®, tantumque ejus dictorum factorumque retulit, ut 
multi sint qui ob immanem traditionum, quas edidit, numerum 
suspectum fraudis eum habeant.” Page 375, ed. Reiskii. 

178 “ Chosen,” a name of Muhammad. 

180 This last sentence is in Arabic, and therefore the Persian 
interpretation is immediately added. 



Damascus, I set out for the wilderness of Jerusalem, and 
associated with the brutes, until I was made prisoner by 
the Franks, who set me to work along with Jews at 
digging in the fosse of Tripolis, till one of the principal 
men of Aleppo, between whom and myself a former 
intimacy had subsisted, passed that way and recognised 
me, and said, “ What state is this ? and how are you 
living ? ” I replied, 


“ From men to mountain and to wild I fled 
Myself to heavenly converse to betake ; 

Conjecture now my state, that in a shed 
Of savages I must my dwelling make.” 


Better to live in chains with those we love, 

Than with the strange ’mid flow’rets gay to move. 

He took compassion on my state, and with ten dinars 
redeemed me from the bondage of the Franks, and took 
me along with him to Aleppo. He had a daughter, 
whom he united to me in the marriage-knot, with a 
portion of a hundred dinars. As time went on, the girl 
turned out of a bad temper, quarrelsome and unruly. 
She began to give a loose to her tongue, and to disturb 
my happiness, as they have said, 


“ In a good man’s house an evil wife 
Is his hell above in this present life. 

From a vixen wife protect us well, 

Save us, 0 God! from the pains of hell." 

At length she gave vent to reproaches, and said, “ Art 
thou not he whom my father purchased from the Franks’ 
prison for ten dinars?” I replied, “Yes! he redeemed 
me with ten dinars, and sold me into thy hands for a 




I’ve heard that once a man of high degree 
From a wolf’s teeth and claws a lamb set free. 
That night its throat he severed with a knife. 
When thus complained the lamb’s departing life, 

“ Thou from the wolf didst save me theri, hut now, 
Too plainly I perceive the wolf art thou.” 

Story XXXII. 

A king asked a religious man how his precious time 
was passed. He replied, “I pass the whole night in 
prayer, and the morning in benedictions and necessary 
requirements; and all the day in regulating my ex- 
penses.” 181 The king commanded that they should 
supply him with food enough for his support, in order 
that his mind might he relieved from the burthen of 
his family. 


Thou who art fettered by thy family ! 

Must ne’er again thyself imagine free. 

Care for thy sons, bread, raiment, and support, 

Will drag thy footsteps back from heaven’s court. 

All day I must the just arrangements make ; 

To God, at night, myself in prayer betake. 

Night comes ; I would to prayer my thoughts confine, 

But think, How shall my sons to-morrow dine ? 

191 Semelet and Sprenger, and also Boss and Gladwin, read, in- 
stead of malil, Jole GL3j\j*\ 

malik-rd mazmun-i isharat-i abid malum gatht, “The king 
perceived the drift of the devotee’s hint ; ” but I think it much 
better to omit this, and suppose that the king gave the allow- 
ance of his own free will, without its being asked for. 



Story XXXIII. 

One of the Syrian recluses had for years worshipped in 
the desert, and sustained life by feeding on the leaves of 
trees. The king of that region made a pilgrimage to visit 
him, and said, “ If thou thinkest fit I will prepare a 
place for thee in the city that thou mayest have greater 
conveniences for devotion than here, and that others may 
be benefited by the blessing of thy prayers , 182 and may 
imitate thy virtuous acts.” The devotee did not assent 
to these words. The nobles said, “ To oblige the king, 
the proper course is for thee to come into the city for 
a few days and learn the nature of the place ; after which, 
if the serenity of thy precious time suffers disturbance 
from the society of others, thou wilt be still free to 
choose.” They relate that the devotee entered the city, 
and that they prepared for him the garden of the king’s 
own palace, a place delightsome to the mind, and suited 
to tranquillise the spirit. 


Like beauty’s cheek, bright shone its roses red ; 

Its hyacinths — like fair ones’ ringlets spread — • 

Seemed babes, which from their mother milk ne’er drew, 
In winter’s cold so shrinkingly they grew. 


And the branches — on them grew pomegranate-flowers 
Like fire, suspended there, ’ mid verdant bowers. 

The king forthwith despatched a beautiful damsel to him. 

184 Sprenger’s reading of this passage is far the best, or, 
rather, it is correct ; while the reading of all others, including 
my own, is ungrammatical and incorrect. As the sentence 
begins with the second person singular, the shumd after 
anfas, and jUx! amal, is a downright blunder. I saw 
this, but, unsupported by MSS., could not make an alteration, 
and am delighted to find that, on the best authority, Sprenger 




A young moon that e’en saints might lead astray, 
Angel in form, a peacock in display, 

When once beheld, not hermits could retain 
Their holy state, nor undisturbed remain. 

In like manner, after her, the king sent a slave, a 
youth of rare beauty and of graceful proportions. 


Round him, who seems cupbearer, people sink ; 

Of thirst they die , he gives them not to drink. 

The eyes that see him, still unsated crave, 

As dropsy thirsts amid the Euphrates’ wave. 

The holy man began to feed on dainties and wear soft 
raiment, and to find gratification and enjoyment in fruits 
and perfumes, as well as to survey the beauty of the 
youth and of the damsel ; and the wise have said, “ The 
ringlets of the beautiful are the fetters of reason, and 
a snare to the bird of intelligence.” 


In thy behoof, my heart, my faith, my intellect, I vow ; 

In truth, a subtle bird am I ; the snare this day art thou. 

In short, the bliss of his tranquil state began to decline ; 
as they have said, 


“ All that exist — disciples, doctors, saints, 

The pure and eloquent alike, all fail 
When once this world’s base gear their minds attaints, 
As flies their legs in honey vainly trail.” 

At length the king felt a desire to visit him. He 
found the recluse altered in appearance from what he 
was before, with a florid complexion, and waxen fat, 
pillowed on a cushion of brocade, and the fairy- faced 
slave standing at his head, with a fan of peacock’s 


10 5 

feathers. The monarch was pleased at his felicitous state, 
and the conversation turned on a variety of subjects, till, 
at the close of it, the king said, “ Of all the people in the 
world, I value these two sorts most — the learned and 
the devout.” A philosophical and experienced vazir was 
present. He said, “0 king! friendship requires that 
thou shouldest do good to both these two orders of men — 
to the wise give gold, that they may study the more ; 
and to the devout give nothing, that they may remain 


To the devout, nor pence nor gold divide ; 

If one receive it, seek another guide. 


Kind manners, and a heart on God bestowed 

Make up the saint, without alms begged or bread 
That piety bequeathes. What though no load 
Of turquoise-rings on Beauty’s fingers shed 
Their ray, nor from her ear the shimmering gem 
Depends ; ’tis Beauty still, and needs not them. 


0 gentle darwesh ! blest with mind serene, 

Thou hast no need of alms or hermit’s fare. 

Lady of beauteous face and graceful mien ! 

Thou well the turquoise-ring and gauds canst spare. 


Seek I for goods which not to me belong ; 

Then if men call me worldly they’re not wrong. 183 

Story XXXIY. 

In conformity with the preceding story, an affair of 

193 Literally, “‘While I have, and seek for another’s, if they 
do not call me hermit, perhaps they are right.” 


importance occurred to the king. He said, “If the 
termination of this matter he in accordance with my 
wishes, I will distribute so many dirams to holy men.” 
When his desire was accomplished, it became incumbent 
on him to fulfil his vow according to the conditions. He 
gave a bag of dirams to one of his favourite servants, and 
told him to distribute them among devout personages. 
They say that the servant was shrewd and intelligent. 
He went about the whole day, and returned at night, and 
kissing the dirams, laid them before the king, saying, 
“ However much I searched for the holy men I could not 
find them.” The king replied, “ What tale is this ? I 
know that in this city there are four hundred saints.” 
He answered, “ O Lord of the earth ! the devout accept 
them not, and he who accepts them is not devout.” The 
king laughed and said to his courtiers, “Strong as my 
good intentions are towards this body of godly men, and 
much as I wish to express my favour towards them, I 
am thwarted by a proportionate enmity and rejection of 
them on the part of this saucy fellow, and he has reason 
on his side.” 


When holy men accept of coin from thee, 

Leave them, and seek some better devotee. 

Stoby XXX V. 

They asked a profoundly learned man his opinion as 
to pious bequests. He said, “ If the allowance is received 
in order to tranquillize the mind, and obtain more leisure 
for devotion, it is lawful ; but when people congregate 
for the sake of the endowment, it is unlawful.” 


For sacred leisure saints receive their bread, 

Hot to gain food that ease is furnished. 



Story XXXYI. 

A darwesh arrived at a place where the master of the 
house was of a beneficent disposition. A number of 
excellent persons, who were also endowed with eloquence, 
attended his circle, and each one of them, as is customary 
with men of wit, uttered some bon-mot or pleasantry. 
The darwesh had traversed the desert, and was fatigued, 
and had eaten nothing. One of them said in jest, “Thou, 
too, must say something.” The darwesh said, “I have 
not the talent and eloquence of the others, and have not 
read anything ; be satisfied with one couplet from me.” 
All eagerly exclaimed, “ Say on.” He said, 


“ Hungry I stand, with bread so near my path, 

Like one unwedded by the women’s bath.” 

All laughed and approved his wit, and brought a table 
before him. The host said, “Wait a little, friend ! as my 
servants are preparing to roast some meat, cut small.” 
The darwesh raised his head and said, 


“ Not on my table let this roast meat be, 

Baked as I am, dry bread is roast to me.” 

Story XXXYII. 

A disciple said to his spiritual guide, “ What shall I 
do, for I am harassed by people through the frequency 
of their visits to me, and my precious moments are 
disturbed by their coming and going.” He replied, 
“Lend to all who are poor, and demand a loan of all 
who are rich, and they will not come about thee again.” 

If Islam’s van a beggar should precede. 

To China infidels would fly his greed. 



A lawyer said to his father, “No part of those facinating 
speeches of the orators makes an impression on me, for 
this reason, that I do not see their practice correspond 
with their preaching.” 


While men to leave the world they warn, 

Themselves are hoarding pelf and com. 

The sage who does but preach, will ne’er, 

' With all his words, man’s conscience stir. 

Who does no evil, truly wise is he ; 

Not one whose acts and doctrines disagree. 


The sage, whom ease and pleasure lead aside, 

Is himself lost ; to whom can he be guide ? 

The father said, “ 0 my son I it is not proper to avert 
one’s countenance from the instruction of good advisers 
solely through this unfounded notion, and to take the 
path of idleness, and to tax the wise with error; and, 
while seeking for an immaculate sage, to remain deprived 
of the advantages of wisdom, like that blind man who one 
night fell into the mire and exclaimed, “ 0 Musalman ! 
shew a lamp in my path ! ” A bold hussey heard him and 
said, “Thou who canst not see a lamp, what wilt thou 
see with a lamp ? ” In like manner, the congregation 
of preachers 184 is like the warehouse of mercers, for there, 
until thou give money, thou canst not get the goods ; and 
here, unless thou bring good intentions, thou wilt not 
carry off a blessing.” 

184 I prefer Dr. Sprenger’s reading majlis-i 

wdi run to the old reading, lacj majlis-i wag. 




Heed thou well the wise man’s warning, 

Though his acts his words belie ; 

Futile is th’ objector’s scorning, 

“ Sleepers ope not slumber’s eye.” 

Heed thou then well the words of warning, 
Though on a wall thou them descry. 

Story XXXIX. 

(in verse.) 

A holy man left the monastic cell, his vow 
Of sojourn with recluses broke, and now 
A college sought. “How differ then?” I said, 

“ Sages and saints, that thou the one hast fled — 

The other sought P” “This his own blanket saves,” 

He said, “while that the drowning rescues from the 

Story XL. 

A person had fallen asleep in a state of intoxication on 
the highway, and the reins of self-control had escaped 
from his hands. A devotee passed beside him, and 
noticed his disgraceful condition. The young man raised 
his head and said, ‘‘And when they pass by the slips and 
shortcomings of others , they pass by absolvingly .” 185 


When thou a sinner dost behold, 

Shew mercy, nor his crimes unfold. 

Seest thou my faults with scornful eye ? 

With pity rather pass me by. 

1 “ This is a quotation from the Kur’an, chap. xxv. v. 72. I 
have altered Sale’s words, and, with all due deference, I must 
confess I think his rendering of this passage execrable. 

I 10 



Turn not, 0 saint ! thy face from sinful me ; 

But rather view me with benignity. 

If I act not with honour, still do thou 
So act, and pass me by with courteous brow. 

Story XLI. 

A band of dissolute fellows came to find fault with a 
darwesh, and used unwarrantable language, and wounded 
his feelings. He carried his complaint before the chief 
of his order, and said, “I have undergone such and such.” 
His chief replied, “ 0 son ! the patched road of darweshes 
is the garment of resignation. Every one who in this 
garb endures not disappointment patiently is a pretender, 
and it is unlawful for him to wear the robe of the darwesh. 


A stone makes not great rivers turbid grow : 

When saints are vexed their shallowness they shew. 


Hast thou been injured ? suffer it and clear 
Thyself from guilt in pardoning other’s sin. 

0 brother ! since the end of all things here 
Is into dust to moulder, 18 * be thou in 
Like humble mould, ere yet the change begin.” 

Story XLII. 

(in verse.) 

List to my tale ! In Baghdad once, dispute 
Between a flag and curtain rose. Its suit 
The banner, dusty and with toil oppressed, 

Urged ; and the curtain, angry, thus addressed : 

iM Jchak, signifies “dust,” and yhuk 

shudan, “ to he humble.” I have endeavoured to retain the 


1 1 1 

“ Myself and thou were comrades at one school ; 

Both now are slaves ’neath the same monarch’s rule. 

I in his service ne'er have rested, — still, 

Whate’er the time, I journey at his will ; 

My foot is ever foremost in emprise ; 

Then why hast thou more honour in men’s eyes ? 

With moon-faced slaves thy moments pass away ; 

With jasmine-scented girls thou mak’st thy stay. 

I lie neglected still in servile hands, 

Tossed by the winds my head, my feet in bands.” 

“ The threshold is my couch,” the curtain said, 

“ And ne’er, like thee, to heaven raise I my head : 

He who exalts his neck with vain conceit, 

Hurls himself headlong from his boasted seat.” 

Story XLIII. 

A pious man saw an athlete who was exasperated, and 
infuriated, foaming at the mouth. He said, “What is 
the matter with this man P” Some one answered, “ Such 
a one has abused him.” “What!” said the holy man, 
“ This contemptible fellow can lift a stone of a thousand 
mans’ 187 weight, yet has not the power to support a word. 


Boast not thy strength or manhood, while thy heart 
Is swayed by impulse base ; — if man thou art, 

Or woman, matters naught ; — but rather aim 
All mouths to sweeten, — thus deserve the name 
Of man ; for manliness doth not consist 
In stopping others’ voices with thy fist. 


Though one could brain an elephant, yet he 
Is not a man without humanity. 

In earth the source of Adam’s sons began ; 

Art thou not humble ? then thou art not man.” 

187 A man varies in weight in different countries. M. Semelet 
fixes it 5 lb. ; but in India it is, in many places, 80 lb. 

1 II 


Story XLIY. 

They asked a person of eminence as to the character of 
the Brothers of Purity . 188 He replied, “ The meanest 
of their qualities is, that they prefer the wishes of their 
friends to their own interests; and the wise have said, 
‘ the brother whose aims are relative 189 to himself alone, 
is neither brother nor relative.’ ” 


Who goes too fast, cannot thy comrade be ; 

Fix not thy heart on one who loves not thee. 


If truth and faith sway not thy kinsman’s breast, 

To break off kinsmanship with him were best. 

I remember that an opponent objected to the wording 
of this couplet, and said, “ God, most glorious and most 
High, has, in the Glorious Book , 130 forbidden us to break 
the ties of blood, and has commanded us to love our 
relations; and what thou hast said is contrary to this.” 
He replied, “ Thou hast erred ; it is in accordance with 
the Kur’an. God most High has said, ‘ But if thy parents 
endeavour to prevail on thee to associate with me that con- 
cerning which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not ,’” 191 

m M. Semelet tells us, in his note on this passage, that in 
the third century of the Hijrah there was a college of that 
name, at Baghdad. There was also a monastery in Persia so 
called. The Sufis particularly affected the name, from the 
resemblance of U-c safa, and ye sufi, and they are designated 

in this passage by the said title. 

189 I have used this expression in order to retain the pun on 

Wish, “ self,” and Wish, “ relation.” 

l9u That is, The Kur’an. 

191 This quotation is from the Kur’an, ch. xxxi. v. 15. I 
have given Sale’s version. 




Thou, for one friendly stranger, sacrifice 
A thousand kinsmen who their God despise. 

Story XLV. 1 * 

(in verse.) 

In Baghdad once, an aged man of wit 
His daughter to a cobbler gave ; 

The cruel fellow so the damsel bit, 

That blood began her lips to lave. 

Next morning, when the father saw her plight, 

He sought his son-in-law and said, 

“What mark of teeth is this ? ignoble wight ! 

Her lip’s not leather, that thou’st fed 
Upon it thus. I speak this not in jest ; 

Take what is right, but cease to scoff. 

When once ill habits have the soul possessed, 
Till^the last day they’re not left off.” 

Story XLVI. 

A lawyer had an extremely ugly daughter, who had 
arrived at maturity ; but, notwithstanding her dowry and 
a superabundance of good things, no one shewed any 
desire to wed her. 


Brocade and damask but ill grace 
A bride of loathly form and face. 

In short, they were compelled to unite her in the 
nuptial bond with a blind man. They relate that at 
that time there arrived a physician from Ceylon, who 
restored the eyes of the blind to sight. They said to the 

195 This story and the next seem to belong rather to Chapter V. 



lawyer, “ Why dost thou not get thy son-in-law cured ? ” 
He replied, “I am afraid that he should recover his sight 
and divorce my daughter.” 


An ugly wo man ’s spouse is better blind. 

Stoey XL VII. 

A king was regarding a company of darweshes con- 
temptuously. One of them, acute enough to divine his 
feelings, said, “ 0 king ! we, in this world, are inferior to 
thee in military pomp, but enjoy more pleasure, and are 
equal with thee in death, and superior to thee in the 
day of resurrection. 


The conqueror may in every wish succeed ; 

Of bread the darwesh daily stands in need ; 

But in that hour when both return to clay, 

Naught but their winding-sheet they take away. 
When man makes up his load this realm to leave, 

The beggar finds less cause than kings to grieve. 

The outward mark of a darwesh is a patched garment and 
shaven head ; but his essential qualities are a living 
heart and mortified passions. 


Not at strife’s door sits he ; when thwarted, ne’er 
Starts up to contest ; all unmoved his soul. 

He is no saint who from the path would stir, 

Though a huge stone should from a mountain roll. 

The darwesh’s course of life is spent in commemorating, 
and thanking, and serving, and obeying God ; and in 
beneficence and contentment ; and in the acknowledgment 
of one God and in reliance on Him ; and in resignation 
and patience. Every one who is endued with these 



qualities is, in fact, a darwesh, though dressed in a tunic. 
But a babbler, who neglects prayer, and is given to 
sensuality, and the gratification of bis appetite ; who 
spends bis days till night-fall in the pursuit of licentious- 
ness, and passes bis night till day returns in careless 
slumber ; eats whatever is set before him, and says what- 
ever comes uppermost ; is a profligate, though he wear 
the habit of a darwesh. 


0 thou ! whose outer robe is falsehood, pride, 

While inwardly thou art to virtue dead ; 

Thy curtain 193 of seven colours put aside, 

WTiile th’ inner house with mats is poorly spread.” 

Story XLYIII. 

(in verse.) 

1 saw some handfuls of the rose in bloom, 

With bands of grass suspended from a dome. 

I said, “ What means this worthless grass, that it 

Should in the roses’ fairy circle sit ? ” 

Then wept the grass and said, “ Be still ! and know 

The kind their old associates ne’er forego. 

Mine is no beauty, hue, or fragrance, true ! 

But in the garden of the Lord I grew.” 

His ancient servant I, 

Reared by His bounty from the dust ; 

WTiate’er my quality, 

I’ll in His favouring mercy trust. 

No stock of worth is mine, 

Nor fund of worship, yet He will 
A means of help divine ; 

When aid is past, He’ll save me still. 

193 It is customary in Persia to have a curtain at the portal of 
the house, the richness of which depends on the circumstances 
of the owner. 


Those who have power to free, 

Let their old slaves in freedom live, 

Thou Glorious Majesty ! 

Me, too, Thy ancient slave, forgive. 

Sadi ! move thou to resignation’s shrine, 

0 man of God ! the path of God be thine. 

Hapless is he who from this haven turns, 

All doors shall spurn him who this portal spurns. 

Story XLIX. 

They asked a sage, “Which is better, courage or 
liberality ? ” He replied, “ He who possesses liberality 
has no need of courage.” 


Graved on the tomb of Bahrain Gur we read, 

“ Of the strong arm the generous have no need.” 

Hatim 1 ® 4 is dead ; but to eternity 

His lofty name will live renowned for good. 

Give alms of what thou hast. The vineyard, see ! 
Yields more, the more the dresser prunes the wood. 

m Abu Adi jpatim-bin-Abdu ’llah-bin-Sadu’l Tal, usually 
called Hatim Tai, was an illustrious Arab, renowned for his 
generosity. He lived before Muhammad, but his son Adi, who 
died at the age of 120, in the 68th year of the Hijrah, is said 
to have been a companion of the Prophet. Tal is the name 
of a powerful Arabian tribe, to which Hatim belonged. One 
anecdote of Hatim’s liberality is very celebrated. The Greek 
Emperor had sent ambassadors to him for a famous horse he 
possessed, whose swiftness and beauty were unrivalled, and 
which he valued with all an Arab’s pride. When the envoys 
arrived, through some accident he had no food to give them ; 
he, therefore, killed his favourite steed, and served up part of 
its flesh. When their hunger was satisfied, the envoys told the 
object of their mission, and were astounded at learning that the 
matchless courser had been sacrificed to shew them hospitality. 



Story I. 

An African mendicant, in the street of the mercers of 
Aleppo, said, “ 0 wealthy sirs ! if you had but justice and 
we contentment, the custom of begging would be banished 
from the world.” 


Contentment ! do thou me enrich ; for those 
Who have thee not are blest with wealth in vain. 

Wise Lukman for his treasure 195 patience chose : 

Who have not patience wisdom ne’er attain. 

Story II. 

There were in Egypt two sons of an Amir. 198 One 
studied science; the other gained wealth. The former 
became the most learned man of the age ; and the latter 
king of Egypt. The rich one then looked with scornful 
eyes on his learned brother, and said, “ I have arrived at 
sovereign power, and thou hast remained in thy poverty 

198 Ross reads ganj, “ treasure,” which I much prefer to 
kunj, “ comer,” the reading of Gladwin, Semelet, and 
Sprenger. Lukman did not choose “ retirement.” Hia wisdom 
was <f>povr)iri<; picked up in the world, not brurrrjfi^. 

198 Niebuhr, in his History of Arabia, tells us that the descen- 
dants of the Prophet are called Amirs, but the general meaning 
of the word is “ nobleman.” 


as at the first.” He replied, “ 0 brother ! it behoves 
me to render thanks to God Most High, for His bounty, 
in that I have obtained the inheritance of the Prophets — 
that is to say, wisdom ; and thou the inheritance of 
Firaun and Hainan, 197 namely, the land of Egypt.” 


I am the ant which under foot men tread, 

And not the hornet whose fierce sting they dread. 

How, for this boon, shall I my thanks express ? 

That I, to injure man, am powerless. 

Story III. 

I have heard of a darwesh who was consumed with the 
flames of hunger, and who sewed rag upon rag, and 
consoled himself with this couplet. 


I’m with dry bread contented, and with tatters ; for 'tis 

To bear up under sorrow, than to be another’s debtor. 

Some one said to him, “ Why dost thou sit here ? for 
such a one in this city has a generous mind, and displays 
a munificence that extends to all, and his loins are ever 
girded to serve the distressed, and he sits at the gate of 
all hearts [waiting to fulfil their wishes]. If he should 
become acquainted with the state of thy circumstances, he 
would consider it an obligation to serve a man of worth, 
and regard it as a precious opportunity.” The darwesh 

m Dr. Sprenger omits the words j wa haman, and thus 

gets rid of the diffi culty of the name Haman being associated 
with that of Pharaoh, the only Haman we know being the 
favourite of Ahasuerus. However, the names occur together in 
the Kur’an, chaps, xxviii. and xl., where Haman appears to be 
the vazlr of Pharaoh, and therefore only of the same name as 
our Haman, not the same person. 


119 . 

replied, “ Be silent ! for it is better to die in indigence 
than to expose one’s wants to another : as they have said, 


‘ Better to suffer, and sew patch o’er patch, 

Than begging letters to the rich to write. 

Truly it doth hell’s torments fairly match, 

To mount by others to celestial light.’ ” 

Story IV. 

One of the kings of Persia sent a skilful physician to 
wait on Mustafa 198 (on whom be peace!). He remained 
some years in the country of Arabia ; but no one came to 
test his abilities, nor asked him for medicine. One day 
he presented himself before the Chief of the Prophets (on 
whom be peace !) and complained, saying, “ They sent me 
to heal your companions, and during this long interval no 
one has addressed himself to me, that this slave might 
discharge the duty for which he was appointed.” The 
Prophet (peace be upon him !) said, “ This people have a 
custom of not eating anything till hunger compels them, 
and of withdrawing their hands from the repast while 
still hungry.” “This,” said the physician, “is the cause 
of their good health.” He then kissed the ground re- 
spectfully and departed. 


The wise will then begin their speech, 

Then towards food their fingers reach. 

When silence would with ills be rife, 

When fasting would endanger life : 

Such speech were, certes, wisdom, too, 

And from such food will health accrue. 

m A name of Muhammad. Vide Note 179. 



Story V. 

A person made frequent vows of repentance and broke 
them again, till a venerable personage said to him, “I 
understand that thou bast the habit of gormandizing, 
and the bond of thy appetites — that is to say, thy vowb of 
penitence — is finer than a hair ; and thy appetite^ as 
thou fosterest them, would break a chain ; and a day will 
come when they will destroy thee.” 


A wolf’s whelp had been fostered till, one day, 
Grown strong, it tore its master’s life away. 

Story VI. 

In the annals of Ardshir Babakan , 198 it is related that 
he asked an Arabian physician how much food ought to 
be eaten daily. He replied, “ A hundred dirhams’ weight 
would suffice.” The king replied, “ What strength will 
this quantity give?” The physician answered, “ This 
quantity will carry thee ; and that which is in excess of it 
thou must carry ; ” or, “ This quantity will support thee, 
and thou must support whatever thou addest to this.” 

We eat to live, God’s praises to repeat ; 

Thou art persuaded that we live to eat. 

Story VII. 

Two darweshes of Khurasan, travelling together, united 
in companionship. One was weak, and was in the habit 
of breaking his fast after every two nights ; and the other 
was strong, and made three meals a day. It happened 

*" This king was the first of the fourth Persian dynasty or 
Sassanides. He was the son of a shepherd, who married the 
daughter of one Babak — hence the name. He was co-temporary 
with the Emperor Commodus. 



that at the gate of a city they were seized, on suspicion of 
being spies, and were both imprisoned, and the door 
closed up with mud. After two weeks it was discovered 
that they were innocent. They opened the door, and 
found the strong man dead, and the weak man safe and 
alive. They were still in astonishment at this, when a 
wise man said, “ The opposite of this would have been 
strange ; for this man was a great eater, and could not 
support the being deprived of food, and so perished. ' But 
the other was in the habit of controlling himself ; he 
endured, as was his wont, and was saved.” 


When to eat little is one’s habit grown, 

Then, should we want, we bear it easily ; 

Do we indulge when plenty is our own. 

Then, when want happens, we of hardship die. 

Story YIII. 

A sage forbade his son to eat much, as satiety causes 
sickness. The son replied, “ 0 my father ! hunger kills. 
Hast thou not heard what the wits have said ? ‘ That it is 
better to die of repletion than to endure hunger.’ ” The 
father answered, “Observe moderation; for God Most 
High has said, ‘ Eat and drink ; but do not exceed'" 

Eat not so as to cause satiety ; 

Nor yet so little as of want to die. 


The sense by food is gratified ; yet still 

Th’ excess of it brings sickness. Did you eat 
Conserve of roses in excess, ’twere ill : 

Eat late ; then bread is as that conserve sweet.” 

Story IX. 

They said to a sick man, “What does thy heart 



desire ? ” He replied, “ Only tliat it may desire some- 
thing.” 200 


For stomachs loaded or oppressed with pain. 

The costliest viands are prepared in vain. 

Story X. 

In the city of Wash , 201 some Sufis had incurred a debt 
of a few dirams to a butcher. Every day he dunned 
them, and spoke roughly to them. The society were 
distressed by his reproaches, but had no remedy, save 
patience. A holy man among them said, “ It is easier to 
put off the stomach with a promise of food, than the 
butcher with a promise of payment.” 


Better renounce the favour of the great, 

Than meet their porter’s gibes at thy expense ; 

Bather through want of food succumb to fate. 

Than bear the butcher’s dunning insolence. 

Story XI. 

A brave man had received a terrible wound in a war 
with the Tartars. Some one said to him, “ Such a mer- 
chant possesses a remedy. If thou ask him, perhaps he 
may give thee a little.” How they say that that merchant 
was as notorious for his stinginess as Hatim Tal for his 

800 The other translators read na lchwahad, and render 

thus, “ Only that it may not desire anything." This, I think, 
destroys the point of the story. The sick man wanted food, and 
being asked what he would wish to eat, replied, “ That his wish 
was, that he could fancy anything.” 

* 01 Wasit [lit., “ middle ”] is a city lying between Kufah and 
Basrah, on the Tigris, built A.H. 83, by Hajjaj bin Yusuf. 


,2 3 


If the sun upon his table-cloth instead of dry bread lay, 
In all the world none would behold again the light of day. 

The warrior replied, “ If I ask him for the remedy, he 
may give it or he may not ; and if he give it, it may do 
me good or it may not. In every case to ask of him is 
deadly poison.” 


Whoe’er to beg of sordid persons stoops, 

His flesh may profit, but his spirit droops. 

And the wise have said, “Were they, for example, to 
sell the water of life at the price of honour, 80 * a wise man 
would not buy it ; since to die honourably is better than 
to live disgracefully.” 


The colocynth from friends tastes better far, 

Than sweets from those whose features scowling are. 

Stoby XII, 

One of the learned had a large family and small means. 
He stated his case to a great personage who entertained 
a favourable opinion of him. The great man was dis- 
pleased with the request, and regarded with disappro- 
bation this annoyance of begging on the part of a man of 


Seekest thou thy friend ? let not thy face be sad 
With thy misfortunes, lest thou cloud his joy : 
When asking favours let thy looks be glad ; 

For fortune’s not to smiling brows more coy. 

102 There is a play on words here which cannot be preserved 
in English : <_>! db rut, literally, “ water of the face,” 

signifies “honour,” and is here made to answer to CjLjw i«_>1 
db-i haidt, “ water of life.” 


They relate that he increased his allowance a little, and 
diminished his regard for him much. After some- days, 
when the learned man saw that the great man’s wonted 
friendship was not continued to him, he said, 


“ Fie on that food which through base means you taste ! 

The cauldron's 'stablished, but your worth’s abased. m 

My bread increases ; but my name’s depressed : 

Sure want is better than a base request.” 

Story XIII. 

A darwesh was suffering from a pressing exigency. 
Some one said to him , “ Such a one possesses incalculable 
wealth. If he were informed of your wants, he would 
probably not allow of any delay in relieving them.” He 
replied, “ I do not know him.” The other answered, “ I 
will conduct thee.” He took his hand and brought him 
to that person’s door. The darwesh beheld a man with a 
hanging lip, and sitting in an ill-tempered attitude : he 
said not a word and went back. The other said to him, 
“ What hast thou done P ” He replied, “ I renounced his 
gift for the sake of his looks.” 

105 There is a double equivoque in this Arabic couplet, 
jjj kidr, is “ a cauldron,” and jSs kadr, is “worth,” and 
muntasab, “ established,” signifies also inflected with 
nasb, this nasb being the grammatical expression for 
tabor, or the short “a” vowel-sound. The jjJ kidr, “caul- 
dron,” is said then to be muntasab, made into jjJ 

kadr, “ worth ; ” and in the same way the jSi kadr, “ worth,” 
is said to be makh fuz (which, as well as “abased,” 

signifies also kasrated, or inflected with the vowel “!”) or 
made into j jj kidr, “cauldron.” 



To one of scowling face tell not thy woes, 

Lest that his evil temper should thee pain ; 

But if thy griefs thou shouldst at all disclose. 

Be it to one from whom thou mayst obtain, 

In his kind countenance, a ready gain. 

Story XIV. 

One year there befel such a drought at Alexandria that 
the reins of endurance escaped from the hands of men, 
and the gates of heaven were closed against the earth, and 
the complaints of the terrestrial inhabitants ascended to 


Nor beast, nor bird, nor fish, nor ant was there, 

But to the sky arose its cry of pain. 

Strange that the smoke-wreaths of the people’s prayer 
Became not clouds, their streaming tear-drops rain. 

In such a year, an effeminate person (be he far from 
my friends !), to describe whom would be indecorous, 
especially in the august presence of the great ; yet to 
pass over whom altogether in a careless manner would not 
be right, lest some party should impute it to the inability 
of the speaker : wherefore, we will sum up the matter 
with this couplet, that a little may be a sample of much, 
and a handful a specimen of an ass-load. 


A Tartar might that wretch effeminate 
Slay, and not, therefore, merit a like fate. 

Such a person, a partial description of whom thou hast 
heard, possessed that year incalculable wealth. He gave 
silver and gold to the necessitous, and kept a table for 
travellers. A party of darweshes, who were reduced to 
the last extremity by the violence of their hunger, formed 


the intention of accepting his invitation, and came to 
consult with me upon the matter. I withheld my consent, 
and said, 


“ Lions devour not food which dogs forego. 

Of hunger though they perish in their den. 

Give up thy frame to famine, want, and woe ; 

But stretch not forth thy hand to baser men. 

A fool a second Farldun may be 

In wealth ; yet him you lightly should esteem. 

Silk and brocade upon th’ unworthy seem 

Like gilding on a wall and lazuli.” 

Story XV. 

They said to Hatim Tai, “ Hast thou seen or heard of 
any one in the world more magnanimous than thyself ? ” 
He replied, “ Yes ! One day I had sacrificed forty camels, 
and had gone out with the chiefs of the Arabs to a comer 
of the desert; there I saw a wood-cutter, who had 
collected a bundle of thorns. I said, ‘ Why dost thou not 
go to Hatim’ s entertainment ? for the people have assem- 
bled at his board.’ He replied, 


‘ By theif own efforts those who earn their bread. 
Need not by Hatim Tai’s alms be fed.’ 

I perceived that in magnanimity and generosity he was 
my superior. ’ ” 


The Prophet Musa 204 (on him be peace !) saw a darweah 
who, to hide his nakedness, had concealed himself in the 
sand, and who said, “ 0 Musa ! pray for me, that God 
Most High may give me wherewith to live, for I am so 

304 Moses. 



weak as to be at the point of death.” Musa (peace be 
upon him !) prayed, so that God Most High granted him 
assistance. Some days after, when the Prophet was 
returning from his devotions, he saw the darwesh in 
custody, and surrounded by a crowd of people. He asked, 
“ What has befallen him ? ” They replied, “ He drank 
intoxicating liquor, raised a disturbance, and slew a man ; 
now they are going to exact retaliation.” 


Had the poor cat but wings, it would erase 
The sparrow's progeny from nature’s face ; 

So, too, the feeble, could they but prevail, 

Their fellow-impotents would soon assail. 

Musa (peace be on him !) acknowledged the wisdom of 
the Creator, and expressed contrition for his boldness, 
repeating the verse, “ And if God had plenteously afforded 
subsistence to Sis creatures, they would have rebelled on the 


What, proud one ! plunged thee in this hapless plight ? 

Would that the ant ne'er had the power of flight ! 


When to a blockhead riches, rank accrue, 

His folly on his head a buffet brings. 

Is not this proverb of the sages true ? 

“ 'Twere better for the ant not to have wings.” 


Of honey hath the Sire a plenteous store ; 

But the son’s feverish [and must not have more ]. 205 


That Being, who increases not thy wealth, 

Better than thou, knows what is for thy health. 

*“ That is, our Heavenly Father has store of blessings ; but 
man needs chastisement rather than indulgence. 



Story XVII. 

I once saw an Arab amid a circle of jewellers, at 
Basrah, who was relating the following story : “ Once on 
a time I had lost my way in the desert, and had not a 
particle of food left, and I had made up my mind to 
perish, when, suddenly, I found a purse full of pearls. 
Never shall I forget the gratification and delight I felt 
when I imagined them to be parched wheat; nor again, 
the bitterness and despair when I found them to be 


In the parched desert and the drifting sands. 

What to the thirsty is or pearl or shell P 
When the tired traveller foodless, powerless stands, 

No more than sherds can gold his wants expel. 

Story XVIII. 

An Arab in the desert, from excess of thirst, exclaimed, 

“ 0 would that, ere I die, 

I might at length one day obtain my will : 

A river dashing by 

Knee-deep, while I at ease my bucket fill.” 

In the same way a traveller had lost his way in a vast 
plain, and his food and strength were exhausted, and he 
had some dirams in his belt. He wandered about much, 
but could not regain the road, and perished of fatigue. 
A party arrived there, and saw the dirams spread out 
before his face, and these words traced on the ground, 


“ Though he all yellow gold, pure gold possessed, 

His wishes still the foodless man would miss. 

A turnip boiled, to the poor wretch distressed 
In deserts, than crude silver better is.” 



Story XIX. 

I never complained of tlie vicissitudes of fortune, nor 
suffered my face to be overcast at the revolution of the 
heavens, except once, when my feet were bare, and I had 
not the means of obtaining shoes. I came to the chief 
mosque of Kufah 158 in a state of much dejection, and saw 
there a man who had no feet. I returned thanks to God 
and acknowledged his mercies, and endured my want of 
shoes with patience, and exclaimed, 


“ Roast fowl to him that’s sated will seem less 
Upon the board than leaves of garden cress. 

While, in the sight of helpless poverty, 

Boiled turnip will a roasted pullet be.” 

Story XX. 

A certain king, with some of his principal officers, 
chanced to be in a hunting-park, at a great distance from 
any habitation, in time of winter. Night fell ; they 
observed the house of a peasant, and the king said, “ Let 
us go there for the night, that we do not suffer from the 
cold.” One of his vazlrs said, “ It would not be suitable 
to the dignity of a king to take refuge in the hut of a 
miserable peasant. Let us pitch our tent here and kindle 
a fire.” The peasant learned what had taken place. He 
prepared what food he had ready and took it to the king, 
and, after kissing the ground respectfully, said, “ The 
lofty dignity of the king will not be lowered by thus 
much condescension : but these are unw illin g that the 
rank of the peasant should be exalted.” The king was 
pleased with his address. He transferred himself to his 
cottage for the night, and in the morning gave him a robe 
of honour and other rich presents. I have heard that the 

13 ° 


villager ran by the king’s stirrup for some distance, and 


“ Of the king’s glorious attributes, not one 
Was lost by honouring the hostelrie 
Of the poor peasant, whose peaked cap the sun 
Has reached, since on his head fell, shelteringly, 
The shadow of a monarch great like thee.” 

Story XXI. 

They relate that a horrible mendicant possessed great 
treasures. A king said to him, “ It appears that thou 
possessest immense wealth, and I have an emergent 
occasion ; if thou wouldst assist me with a little of it by 
way of loan, when the revenue of the country comes in 
it shall be faithfully repaid.” He replied, “ It would be 
unworthy of the lofty dignity of Earth’s Lord to defile 
the hand of his nobleness with the property of a beggar 
like me, who has scraped it up grain by grain.” The 
king replied, “ There is no occasion to be distressed on 
that account, for I shall give it to the Tartars — -filth to the 


Mortar, they tell us, is by no means sweet ; 

’Tis then to stop foul drains with it more meet. 


A Christian's well may not be pure, 'tis true ; 

'Twill do to wash the carcase of a Jew. 

I have heard that he bowed not to the king’s command, 
and began to shuffle and be insolent. The king then 
ordered them to take out of his clutches, by force and 
intimidation, the amount under discussion. 




When by kind means succeeds not an affair, 

Rough treatment then we must apply and force. 

Whoever of himself will nothing spare, 

Others will him, too, nothing spare, of course. 

Story XXII. 

I met 206 with a merchant who had a hundred and fifty 
camels of burthen and forty slaves and servants. One 
night, in the island of Kish, he took me to his room, and 
did not cease the whole night from talking in a rhodo- 
montade fashion, and saying, “ I have such a correspon- 
dent in Turkistan, and such an agency in Hindustan ; 
and this paper is the title-deed of such a piece of ground, 
and for such a thing I have such a person as security.” 
At one time he said, “ I intend to go to Alexandria, as 
the climate is agreeable.” At another, “Ho! for the 
western sea is boisterous ; 0 Sadi ! I have one more 
journey before me: when that is accomplished I shall 
retire for the rest of my life and give up trading.” I 
said, “ What journey is that ? ” He replied, “ I shall 
take Persian sulphur to China, for I have heard that it 
brings a prodigious price there ; and thence I shall take 
China-ware to Greece, and Grecian brocade to India, and 
Indian steel to Aleppo, and mirrors of Aleppo to Yaman, 207 
and striped cloth of Yaman to Persia, and after that I 
shall give up trading and sit at home in my shop.” He 
continued for some time rambling in this strain until he 
had no power to utter more. He then said, “ 0 Sadi ! do 
thou say something of what thou hast seen and heard.” 
I replied, “ Thou hast not left me a single subject to talk 

** Literally, “ saw ” ; but here one may translate it, “ was in 
the habit of seeing.” 

Arabia Felix. 


13 * 


Hast thou not heard what once a merchant cried. 
As in the desert from his beast he sank p 
“ The worldling’s greedy eye is satisfied. 

Or by contentment or the grave-yard dank.” 

Story XXIII. 

I have heard of a wealthy man who was as famous for 
his parsimony as Hatim TSI for generosity. His outward 
estate was adorned with riches, but the baseness of his 
nature was so inherent in him that he would not have 
given a loaf to save a life, nor would have indulged the 
cat of Abu Hurairah 178 with a scrap, nor have cast a bone 
to the dog of the Companions of the Cave. In short, no 
one ever saw his mansion with the doors open, nor his 
table spread. 


Ho darwesh knew his viands save by smell. 

Nor birds picked crumbs which from his table fell 

I have heard that he was voyaging to Egypt by the 
western sea with all the pride of Pharaoh, according to the 
words of the Most High, “ until his submersion arrived:" 
All of a sudden an adverse wind sprang up round the 
vessel : as they have said, 


“ Thy peevish mind all things must still displease. 

The ship not always finds a favouring breeze.” 

He raised his hands in prayer, and began to make 
unavailing lamentations. God Most High has said , “ When 
they embark in a ship, they pray to God” 




What will it avail the creature to stretch forth his hand 
in grief ? 

Raised in prayer to God in peril, but withheld from 
man’s relief . 208 


Go, with thy silver and thy gold, provide 
Blessings to men ; nor from thyself withhold 
Enjoyment due ; thus ever shall abide 

Thy house, its bricks of silver and of gold . 209 

They relate that he had poor relations in Egypt, who 
were enriched by the residue of his property, and who, 
at his death, rent their old garments, and cut out others 
of silk and stuffs of Damietta. During the same week, 
too, I saw one of them mounted on a fleet courser, with a 
fairy-faced youth running at his stirrup. I said to myself, 


“ Ah ! could the dear defunct again 
Back to his kin and friends repair, 

Worse than his death would be the pain 
Of restitution to his heir.” 

On the strength of a former acquaintance which existed 
between us, I pulled his sleeve and said, 


“Enjoy thy fortune, gentle sir! for he, 

Luckless, amassed ; th’ enjoyment, left to thee.” 

** The literal translation of this impracticable couplet is — 

“ What avails the hand of entreaty to the needy creature, 

Who in the hour of prayer raises it to God, but at the time 
for liberality puts it under his armpit.” 

** The meaning of this is : Thou shalt obtain for thyself a 
heavenly dwelling, built, as it were, by the proper use of thy 
treasures in this world. 



Story XXTV. 

A strong fish fell into the net of a weak fisherman. 
He had not strength to secure it ; the fish got the better 
of him, dragged the net from his hands, and escaped. 


The slave went forth for water from the brook, 

The streamlet rose and bore the slave away. 

Each time the net its prize of fishes took, 

But of the net the fish made prize to-day. 

The other fishermen were vexed, and reproached him, 
saying, “ Such a fish fell into thy net, and thou couldst 
not keep it ! ” He replied, “ 0 brothers ! what could I 
doP seeing that it was not my lucky day, and the fish 
had some days remaining.” 210 


A fisherman without luck cannot capture a fish in the 
Tigris; and unless his predestined time be come, a fish 
will not die on the dry land. 

Story XXV. 

One whose hands and feet had been cut off killed a 
millepede. A devout personage passed by and said, 
“ Holy God ! though it had a thousand feet, yet, when 
its time was come, it could not escape from one without 
either hands or feet.” 

,l ° There is a play on the words here which cannot be well 
preserved in English. i^Sjy ruzl, signifies “luck” as well as 
“ days ” [*.«. remnant of lifej. 


» 35 


When from behind speeds our last enemy, 

Fate fetters us, how fleet soe’er we be. 

And in that instant when comes up the foe, 

’Tis vain to handle the Kaianian bow. 211 

Story XXYI. 

I saw a fat blockhead, with a gorgeous robe on his 
body, and an Arabian horse under him, and a turban of 
fine Egyptian linen on his head. Some one said, “ 0 
S&di ! what thinkest thou of this splendid brocade on 
this animal who knows nothing P ” I replied, “ It is a 
villainous scrawl written in golden letters.” 


He, among men , an ass appears to be, 

Certes a very calf-like effigy . 212 


One cannot say this brute resembles man. 

Save by cloak, turban, outward garniture ; 

Go thou his goods, estates, possessions scan, 

Naught but his life is takeable, be sure. 


Though one of birth illustrious should grow poor, 
This will his lofty station naught impair : 

And though gold nails may stud his silver door, 
Think not a Jew can aught that’s noble share. 

111 The Kaianian is the second dynasty of Persian kings, of 
whom the first was Kaikubad or Darius the Mede. Archery is 
said to have reached perfection under these monarchs. 

811 There is a reference here to the Kur’an, ch. vii. v. 148, 
“ And the people of Moses, after his departure, took a corporeal 
calf, made of their ornaments, which lowed.” 

13 $ 


Story XXVII. 

A thief said to a beggar, “Art thou not ashamed to 
hold out thy hand for the smallest particle of silver to 
every contemptible fellow ? ” He replied, 


“ Better hold the hand for coin, though small, 

Than lose, for one and half a dang, 813 it all.” 

Story XXVIII. 

They relate that an athlete had suffered so much from 
adverse fortune that he was reduced to despair, and 
bemoaned himself on account of his keen appetite and 
narrow means. He went to his father to complain, and 
asked his leave to set out on his travels, in order that by 
the strength of his arm he might succeed in grasping the 
skirt of his wishes. 


Merit and skill are weak while in the husk : 

Aloes they cast on fire, and crush down musk. 

The father said, “ 0 son ! put out of thy head this im- 
practicable idea, and draw the feet of contentment under 
the skirt of security : as the wise have said, ‘ Riches are 
not to be gained by exertion ; the best resource is to 
chagrin oneself less.’ 


Ho one by strength of arm can fortune find : 

’Tis labour lost— collyrium for the blind. 

au A dang is the sixth part of a dirham, or, according to 
some, the fourth part, and therefore equal to about one penny. 
M. Semelet remarks that this line shews that theft, in the time 
of Sftdi, was punished by amputation, if the thing stolen was 
worth one and a half dang ; I suppose, however, that this sum 
is used generally for any trifling value. 




Hast thou two hundred virtues on each hair ? 

With adverse fate thou still wilt badly fare. 


What can th’ ill-starred athlete do ? how thrive ? 

Can he, though strong, with stronger fortune strive ? ” 

The son replied, “ 0 father ! the advantages of travel are 
manifold ; in enlivening the mind, and acquiring advan- 
tages, and seeing wonderful things, and hearing marvels 
and in amusement, in passing through new countries, and 
in correspondence with friends, and in the acquisition of 
rank and courteous manners, and in the increase of wealth 
and profit, and as a means of obtaining companions, and 
making proof of different fortunes : as those who travel 
in the path of spirituality have said, 


‘ Whilst thou art wedded to thy shop and home, 

0 simpleton ! a man thou ne’er wilt be ; 

Go blithely forth, and in the wide world roam, 

Ere thou roam’st from it to eternity.’ ” 

The father answered, “0 son ! the advantage of travel in 
the manner thou hast mentioned is great ; but it is secured 
to five kinds of persons. The first is the merchant, who, 
by the possession of riches and affluence, and active slaves, 
and enchanting damsels, and brave servants, enjoys all 
the luxuries of the world, being each day in a city, and 
each night at a halting-place, and each instant in an 
abode of pleasure. 


In mountain-waste, or forest wild, the rich man isnot strange ; 
Where’er he goes his tent is pitched, and there his 
court is made. 

But he who has not this world’s gear must ever friendless 

Hor even in his fatherland will comfort find nor aid. 



The second is the learned man, from whose sweetness of 
speech, and power of language, and stock of eloquence, 
wherever he goes, all hasten to serve him and do him 


The wise man’s nature is like purest gold : 

Where’er he comes all know his value, prize his worth. 
But men will, cheap as leathern money, hold 
The witless lord, save in the land that gave him birth. 

The third is the beautiful person, being such that the 
heart 214 of persons of eminence inclines to friendship with 
him, and his society is regarded by them as a fortunate 
circumstance, and his service as a favour : as they have 
said : ‘ A little beauty is better than much wealth : a 
fair countenance is a salve for heart-sickness, and the key 
of closed doors.’ 


Let beauty travel where it will, it finds respectful greeting, 
Though its own parents, wrathfully, should drive it 
from its home. 

One day, amid the Kur’an’s leaves, a peacock’s feather 

I said, ‘ This place exceeds thy worth, thou dost it 
not become.’ 

* Peace ! ’ it replied, ‘for to each one who wears the charm 
of beauty, 

Go where he will, all him receive with favour as a 


WTien the son beauty has, and courtesy, 

Let him not care how cold his sire may be. 

8,4 M. Semelet recommends kunad for kunand, and 
Dr. Sprenger reads it; I do not, therefore, hesitate to adopt 
it in this translation. 



He is a pearl, what if the shell be lost ? 

Who for a priceless 815 pearl will grudge the cost? 

The fourth is he who possesses a sweet voice ; who, with 
the throat of David, restrains the water from flowing, 
and arrests the bird in its flight ; and, moreover, by 
means of this excellence, captivates the hearts of men, 
and spiritual persons eagerly desire his companionship. 


My ears attend his melody ; 

Who'* this whose hands m the lutestrings try ? 


How winningly a soft and tender voice 

Comes to the ears of friends, whom th’ early bowl 
Makes blithe ! in it, more than in looks, rejoice 
All hearts; these the sense gladden : that the soul. 

The fifth is the artisan, who gains the means of support 
by the labour of his arm, so that his character is not 
jeoparded for bread : as the wise have said, 


‘ If want from his own city should expel 
A cotton-carder, he’d not feel distress ; 

But if the king of Nimroz, ruined, fell 

From his high place, he’d slumber supperless.' 

Qualities such as I have described are a means of consola- 
tion in travel, and a sweet cause of enjoyment ; but one 

s “ There is a very good equivoque here which cannot he 
repeated in English: yatlm, signifies “unique, precious,” 

and also “orphan.” 

ala For the ^ husn-u'l-masdnl in the second line, 
which is the common reading, Dr. Sprenger has the better (in 
my opinion) reading: jassa-u’l “he 

handled the strings.” 



who has no share in all these will enter the world with 
vain expectations, and no one will hear his name again, 
or see any more trace of him. 


He, whom f afflict upsprings revolving fate 
Malevolent, is led by destiny 
Against his will The pigeon, who his mate 
Shall ne’er revisit, follows fate’s decree 
Towards the net [in blind security].” 

The son answered, “ 0 father ! how shall I act in opposi- 
tion to the saying of the wise? who have pronounced 
that although a subsistence is allotted, yet it is on the 
condition of using the means of acquiring it ; and though 
calamity is predestined, yet it is right to secure oneself 
against the portals by which it might have access. 


Though, without doubt, fate will our want Bupply, 
Reason requires it be sought from home ; 

’Tis true that none will unpredestined die, 

Yet in a dragon’s maw one should not come. 

In my present condition I could encounter a furious 
elephant and contend with a devouring lion. My best 
course is to travel, for I am unable to endure my privations 
any longer. 


Whene’er a man from home and country flies, 

All earth is his ; he has no further care. 

Each night the rich man to his palace hies : 

Where night descends, the poor man’s home is there.” 

He spoke thus, and asking his father’s blessing, took 
leave of him and set off, and at the time of his departure 
they heard him say, 


“ The man of worth, whose fate is cross, will go 
Where men have never learned his name to know.” 



So lie travelled on till he came to the brink of a stream, 
by the violence of which stone was dashed upon stone, 
and whose noise resounded to the distance of a parasang .® 17 


A stream so dread, not birds were safe amid its waters’ 
roar ; 

The smallest of its waves would sweep a mill -stone from 
its shore. 

There he saw a party of men who had each of them 
obtained a seat in a ferry-boat, for a small piece of gold, 
and whose baggage was ready packed. The young man’s 
hand was closed from payment, but he loosened the 
tongue of compliment. In spite of all his supplication 
they rendered him no assistance, but said, 


“ Thou canst not make thy strength of arm the want of 
gold supply ; 

And hast thou gold, thou needest not to threaten or 

The rude boatman turned from him with a laugh, and 


“ Gold thou hast not ; the passage o’er by force may not 
he won ; 

What is the strength of ten men here ? bring thou the 
gold for one.” 

The young man was incensed at this sarcasm, and 

517 Chardin explains this word as fan sang , 

“ Persian stone ; ” a word written by ITerodotus and other 
Greek authors, Ilapaffavya, parasanga: “II paralt, par la 
signification du mot Fars-seng, qu’anciennement les lieues 
etaient marquees par de grandes et hautes pierres, tant dans 
l’Orient que dans l’Occident. On dit en latin, Ad primum vel 
secundum lapidem.” 



burned to revenge himself upon him. The boat had put 
off; be called out, “If thou wilt be content with this 
garment I am wearing, I will not refuse to give it.” The 
boatman’s avarice was roused ; he put back the boat. 


The eyes of men, though sharp, are closed by avarice ; 

Greed will both bird and fish towards the net entice. 

As soon as the young man’s hand could reach the beard 
and collar of the boatman, he dragged him forward and 
knocked him down without mercy. His comrades 218 came 
out of the boat to help him, and meeting with the same 
rough treatment, turned their backs, finding it their best 
plan to make peace with him, and excuse him the passage- 


Act thou forbearingly when discord’s rife, 

For gentleness will close the gates of strife. 

When thou seest broils arise, use courtesy ; 

A sharp sword cuts not silk, though soft it be. 

With honeyed words, good humour on thy side, 
Thou, with a hair, an elephant mayst guide. 

They fell at his feet, with excuses for their past conduct, 
and imprinted hypocritical kisses on his forehead and 
face, and brought him into the boat, and proceeded till 
they arrived at a pillar of a Grecian building which 
remained standing amid the waters. The boatman said, 
“ The boat is in danger ; let one of you, who is most 
courageous and valiant, and powerful, go to this pillar, 
and lay hold of the boat’s hawser, that we may pass by 

318 Dr. Sprenger reads JiiiX*! yarash amadand, M. 

Semelet y & ™h d.mad. I must confess I prefer my 

own reading y^ranash amadand. 



this building .” 819 The young man, from the pride of 
valour which he felt, took no thought of his still smarting 
foe, and forbore to act in accordance with the saying of 
the wise, which they have uttered: “When thou hast 
wounded the heart of any one, even if thou shouldest 
subsequently do him a hundred favours, nevertheless deem 
not thyself safe from that one injury, for the shaft may 
have been extracted from the wound, yet the pang abide 
still in the heart.” 


How truthfully to Khailtash, Yaktash 220 said ; 

Is thy foe hurt ? — then live not free from dread. 


Fancy not thyself safe, for thou shalt moan, 

Who hast another treated cruelly. 

Against the castle- wall hurl not a stone. 

Lest from the walls a stone descend on thee. 

He had no sooner twisted the hawser round his arm, 
and mounted the pillar, than the boatman twisted the 
rope from his hand, and urged on the boat. The athlete 
remained there helpless and astonished. For two days he 
endured his suffering and distress, and bore up against 
his hardships. On the third day sleep seized him by the 
collar, and plunged him in the water. After a night and 
a day 221 he was cast on the shore, with the breath of life 

218 Dr. Sprenger reads jy*c. j\ Ij ta az imarat 

ubar kunim, which, on the whole, I prefer to the reading in my 
edition. M. Semelet translates, “ afin que nous fassions la 
reparation.” Gladwin renders, “ that we may save the vessel ” ; 
and Eoss, “till we can swing her head round,” all which 
translations are without the vestige of a foundation in the 

220 Of these two Gentius says, “ duo nobilissimi sunt athletae 
quos celebrat thesaurus regius.” 

221 shabanrQ .% , exactly the Greek . 



just remaining. He began to eat the leaves of trees, and 
to pull up the roots of grass, until he recovered his 
strength a little. He then set his face toward the woods, 
and went on till he arrived, thirsty and hungry, and 
powerless, at the brink of a well. He saw a party of 
persons, who had assembled round it, and who were 
getting a draught of water for a small payment. The 
young man had no coin, not even the smallest ; he asked 
for water, they refused it; he extended the hand of 
violence, but succeeded not. He struck down several of 
them ; the men made a general attack upon him, beat him 
unmercifully, and wounded him. 


Gnats will an elephant o’ercome, if they 
Unite against their foe, so huge and grim. 

And ants collected in one dense array. 

Though fierce the lion be, will vanquish him. 

Urged by necessity, he followed a caravan, sick and 
wounded, and proceeded on. At night they arrived at 
a place which was perilous on account of robbers. He 
saw that a tremor pervaded the frames of the people of 
the caravan, and that they had made up their minds to be 
slain. He said, “Be not troubled, for I am one among 
you who will answer for fifty men, and the other braves 
will assist me.” The men’s hearts were encouraged by 
his vaunt, and they were glad of his company, and 
ministered to him food and water. The fire was blazing 
up in the young man’s stomach, and the reins of endurance 
had slipped from his hands. He devoured some mouthfuls 
with excessive voracity, and swallowed some gulps of 
water, till the demon within him was appeased, and 
slumber overcame him, and he slept. There was, in the 
caravan, an old man of experience, acquainted with the 
world, who said, “0 my friends! I am more afraid of 
this guard of yours than of the robbers j as they tell that 



an Arab had amassed a few dirhams : he conld not sleep 
when alone in his house from dread of the Lurls. 222 He 
brought one of his friends to he with him that he might 
get rid of the terrors of solitude by the sight of him. 
The friend remained some nights in his company, but as 
soon as he found out where his dirhams were, he carried 
them off and went on his travels. The next morning 
they saw the Arab despoiled and lamenting. They said, 
‘ What is the matter ? has some robber carried off those 
dirhams of thine ? ’ He replied, ‘No ! by Heaven, the 
guard has taken them.’ 


With a companion I ne’er felt secure 
Until I learned his inward qualities. 

Wounds from a foeman’s tooth are worse t’ endure 
When he has shown himself in friendship’s guise. 

How know ye, 0 my friends ! whether this young man, 
also, be not of the number of the robbers, and sent among 
us through stratagem, in order that, on a favourable 
opportunity, he may communicate with his friends ? I, 
therefore, think it expedient to leave him asleep, and 
proceed on our journey.” The people of the caravan 
approved of the old man’s advice, and felt a dread of the 
athlete arise in their hearts. They packed up their goods, 
and left the young man sleeping. He did not discover 
this until the sun was shining on his shoulders ; he then 
raised his head, and saw that the caravan had departed. 
After wandering about a long time, he could not find his 
way, and thirsty and hungry, he placed his face on the 
ground, and fixed his thoughts on destruction, and said, 

m The Lurls are the people of Luristan, a mountainous 
province of Persia, to the north-east of Khuzistan, and having 
Kurdistan to the north. The inhabitants are notorious thieves. 





“ Oone m are the yellow camels now : who will address me 
more ? 

The poor man has no comrade — no comrade hut the poor. 


With the poor wanderer they will harshly deal, 

Who ne’er experienced what the friendless feel.” 

He was uttering these words when a prince, who, in 
pursuit of a quarry, had got to a distance from his retinue, 
came and stood over him. He heard what he said ; and 
looking on his form, saw that his external shape was 
comely, while his appearance betokened wretchedness. 
He asked him whence he was, and how he had come 
there ? He related a portion of what had befallen him. 
The prince pitied him, bestowed on him a dress and gifts, 
and sent a confidential servant along with him to see him 
back to his own city. His father was glad to see him, 
and returned thanks for his safety. At night, he told his 
father what had befallen him ; of the adventure of the 
boat, and of the injurious conduct of the boatman, and of 
the peasants, and of the treachery of the people of the 
caravan. The father said, “ 0 son ! did I not tell thee at 
the time of thy departure that the hands of the empty- 
handed, however brave they may be, are fettered, and 
their lion’s claws broken. 


That needy gladiator said right well, 

A grain of gold doth pounds m of strength excel.” 

The son said, “ 0 father ! undoubtedly, until thou 

223 The word jZj zumm, signifies “ bridled,” but in this place 
it refers to departure. 

224 Literally, “fifty mans," a weight which has been explained 



endurest pain, thou wilt no treasure gain ; and while thou 
riskest not thy life, thou wilt not subdue thy foe ; and 
until thou scatterest abroad the seed, thon wilt not reap 
the harvest. Seest thou not, by a little matter of trouble 
which I have undergone, what an amount of treasure I 
have brought home ; and by enduring the sting, what an 
abundance of honey I have obtained ? ” 


Though more than fate supplies we ne’er can gain. 

Yet must we strive that portion to obtain. 


From the ravening monster’s 225 jaw, should the diver 
pause and gasp, 

He’d never hold the precious pearl, the bright pearl, in 
his grasp. 


The lower mill-stone revolves not, and hence, of necessity, 
supports the greater burthen. 


On what would savage lions feed P if they 
In their deep dens abode. The hawk would win 
Small sustenance did it ne’er seek its prey. 

And, like a spider’s, will thy limbs grow thin, 

If thine own house alone thou huntest in. 

The father said, “ 0 son ! this time heaven has befriended 
thee, and thy good fortune has been thy guide, so that 
thy rose has come forth from the thorn, and the thorn 
from thy foot ; and, accordingly, one who possessed 
wealth, found thee out and enriched thee, and he had 
compassion on thee, and repaired thy broken fortunes, 
inquiring kindly into them ; and such an occurrence is 

225 Gladwin translates nihang, “ crocodile,” but the 

danger to the pearl-diver would rather be from sharks. 



rare, and one cannot govern one’s conduct by events of 
rare occurrence. Beware lest tbou be led by this greedi- 
ness to hover a second time round this snare. 


The hunter does not always win the prey, 
Perchance a tiger may him rend one day. 

As, once a king of Persia had a very precious stone in 
a ring. On a certain occasion he went out with some of 
his favourite courtiers, to amuse himself, to the mosque 
near Shiraz, called Musalla, and commanded that they 
should suspend the ring over the dome of Azad, saying 
that the ring should be the property of him who could 
send an arrow through it. It befell that four hundred 
archers, who plyed their bows in his service, shot at 
the ring. All of them missed. But a stripling, at 
play, was shooting arrows at random from a monastery, 
when the morning breeze carried his shaft through the 
circle of the ring. They bestowed the ring upon him, 
and loaded him with gifts beyond calculation. The 
boy, after this, burned his bow and arrows. They asked 
him why he did so. He replied, 1 That my first glory 
may remain unchanged.’ 


The sage whose bright mind mirrors truth, 

May sometimes wander wide of it : 

While, by mistake, the simple youth, 

Will, with his shaft, the target hit.” 

Story XXIX. 

I have heard of a darwesh who had taken up his abode 
in a cave, and had closed the door before him on the 
world ; while, in the eye of his lofty independence, kings 
and rich men had lost consideration. 




Who, on himself, the door of begging opes, 

Will, to his death, in want remain. 

Quit greed, and as a monarch reign, 

For proud his station who for nothing hopes. 

One of the neighbouring princes signified to him that 
he relied on the condescension of his courteous character, 
that he would come and partake of his bread and salt. 
The Shekh consented, as to accept an invitation is enjoined 
by the authority of the Prophet. The next day the king 
went to apologize for the trouble 226 he had given him. 
The devotee arose and embraced the king, and treated 
him kindly. "When the king was gone, one of the com- 
panions of the Shekh asked him, saying, “It is unusual 
with thee to display such tokens of regard to a king; 
what hidden meaning is there in this?” He replied, “Hast 
thou not heard that they have said, 


“ If at another’s table one has sat, 

’Tis right, in turn, to rise and on him wait.” 

The ear may never through one’s life 
Hear sound of tabor, lute, or fife : 

The eye abstain from floral show : 

The brain the rose’s 227 scent not know : 

Though pillowed not on down, the head 
May on a stone find sleep instead : 

And when our arms no fair one hold, 

On our own breast we may them fold. 

But this vile belly, base and dull, 

Will never rest unless ’tis full. 

2M Literally, “for excusing his service (i.e. lack of service) 
to him.” 

221 I omit the Narcissus, metri oausd. 



Story I. 

I said to one of my friends, “ I have chosen to abstain 
from speaking, for this reason, because, on the majority 
of occasions, it happens that in speech there is'evil as well 
as good, and the eye of enemies notes only the evil.” 
He replied, “ 0 brother ! he is the best enemy 228 who 
does not observe our good qualities.” 


No fault’s like virtue to the foeman’s eye, 

Who, e’en in Sadi’s 225 self, would thorns descry. 


Ne'er the malignant pass a good man by, 

But slander him with hateful villainy. 


The feeble- visioned mole perchance may scorn 
The sun’s bright fount, that doth the world adorn. 

Story II. 

A merchant met with the loss of a thousand dinars, 
and said to his son, “ Thou must not tell any one of this 

228 Malice is comparatively quiet as long as the object of its 
hate is but an ordinary character. To be illustrious, provokes 
its bitterest wrath. 

239 Literally, “ A rose is S&di, but in the eyes of enemies a 



matter.” The son replied, “0 father! it is thy command; 
I will not tell ; acquaint me, however, with the advantage 
to be derived from keeping the affair secret.” The father 
answered, “ In order that we may not have two misfor- 
tunes to encounter — first, the loss of our money ; and 
secondly, the malignant rejoicings of our neighbours.” 

Do not to foes thy sufferings impart, 

Lest, while they seem to grieve, they joy at heart.* 30 

Stoey III. 

An intelligent young man, who possessed an ample 
stock of admirable accomplishments and a rare intellect, 
notwithstanding, uttered not a word whenever he was 
seated in the company of the wise. At length, his father 
said, “ 0 son ! why dost not thou also say somewhat of 
that thou knowest P ” He replied, “ I fear lest they 
should ask me something of which I am ignorant, and I 
should bring on myself disgrace.” 


One day a Sufi (hast thou heard it told ?) 

By chance was hammering nails into his shoe : 

Then of his sleeve an officer caught hold, 

And said, “Come thou! and shoe my charger too! ” 


Art silent ? none can meddle with thee. When 
Thou once hast spoken, thou must prove it then. 

Story IV. 

A learned man of high reputation had a dispute with a 
heretic, and did not get the better of him in argument. 

330 Literally, “ While they repeat the deprecatory formula, 
There is no power or strength but in God.” 



He cast away his shield, and took to flight . 831 Some one 
said to him, “Hadst thou, notwithstanding all thy learning 
and address, and eminent qualities and sagacity, no argu- 
ment left with which to combat an infidel ? ” He replied, 
“ My knowledge is the Kur’an, and the traditions of the 
Prophet and the doctrines of the fathers ; and he believes 
not in these things, and will not attend to them ; and in 
what shall I be benefited by listening to his impieties ? ” 


To those who doctrine and Kur’an deny, 

To answer nothing is the best reply. 

Story V. 

The physician Galen, on seeing a fool lay hold of the 
collar of a learned man and disgrace him, said, “Had 
this been a wise man, his dealings with a fool would not 
have reached this point.” 


The wise will not in hate or strife engage ; 

Nor with a simpleton contends the sage. 

When fools, in savage words, their thoughts express, 
The wise will soothe them by their gentleness. 

Two men of judgment will not break a hair, 

Thus ’twixt the headlong and the mild ’twill fare. 

But should the band that parts them be a chain, 

Two fools would quickly break its links in twain. 

Story VI. 

Sahban Wail 232 has been regarded as unrivalled in 
eloquence, inasmuch as he could speak a whole year 
before an assembly without ever being guilty of repeti- 

831 Metaphorical expressions for giving up the dispute. 

833 Name of a celebrated Arabian poet. 



tion ; and should the same idea recur, he would express it 
in different language. And this is one of the accomplish- 
ments requisite for courtiers. 


Thy speech may be attractive, just, and sweet, 
Worthy to be approved by judgment nice ; 

But when once spoken, ne’er the same repeat, 

For once to swallow sweetmeats will suffice. 

Story VII. 

I heard a sage say, “No one avows his ignorance but, 
the man, who, while another is speaking, and has not yet 
finished, commences speaking himself.” 


Each several theme beginning has and end, 

Therefore weave not discourse within discourse. 

A man of judgment, wit, and sense, my friend ! 

Speaks not until thy words have had their course. 

Story VIII. 

Some of the servants of Sultan Mahmud asked Hasan 
Maimandi , 233 “What did the Sultan say to thee to-day 
about a certain affair P ” He replied, “ It will not have 
been concealed from you too ? ” m They answered, 

*“ Khwajah Ahmad-bin Hasan, called Maimandi, from the 
town of Maimand where he was bom, was the vazlr of Sultan 
Mahmud of Ghazni. His enemies, and particularly Altantush, 
the General of Mahmud’s forces, endeavoured to min him with 
the king, but were constantly baffled through the Queen’s 
influence. Firdausi, the author of the Shah-namah, was in- 
troduced to the Sultan by Hasan. 

231 Dr. Sprenger reads »XiLj na bashad for my JoUj namanad, 
and jjJ UaLj fflkir-i mrir-i 

sulfanati tea muster -i tadblr-i mamlakat for my 
dastir-i mamlakat. 



“ Thou art the Prime Minister of the State ; the Sultan 
does not think of telling us what he tells thee.” Hasan 
replied, “ And he does this in the confidence that I will 
not repeat it. Wherefore, then, do ye ask me ? ” 


Not all they know will men of prudence tell ; 

Nor with kings’ secrets sport, and life as well 

Story IX. 

I was hesitating about a bargain for a house when a 
Jew said to me, “ I am one of the old inhabitants of this 
quarter. Inquire of me the intrinsic value of the house, 
and purchase it, for it has not a fault.” I replied, 
“ None, except that thou livest near it.” 


A house with such a neighbour as thou art 

Were worth ten silver dirhams — those, too, bad. 

Yet hope we — shouldst thou from this life depart, 

A thousand for it then might well be had. 

Story X. 

A poet went to the chief of a band of robbers and 
recited a panegyric upon him. He commanded them to 
strip off his clothes and turn him out of the village. The 
dogs, too, attacked him in the rear. He wanted to take 
up a stone, but the ground was frozen. Unable to do 
anything, he said, “What a villainous set are these, who 
have untied their dogs and tied up the stones.” The 
chieftain heard this from a window, and said with a 
laugh, “ Philosopher ! ask a boon of me.” He replied, 
“ If thou wilt condescend to make me a present, bestow 
on me my own coat.” 


From some a man might favours hope — from thee 
We hope for nothing but immunity. 




We feel thy kindness that thou lett’st us go. 

The robber chief had compassion on him. He gave 
him back his coat, and bestowed on him a fur cloak in 
addition, and further presented him with some dirhams. 

Stoby XI. 

An astrologer, on entering his own house, found a man 
sitting with his wife. He abused and reviled him, and a 
disturbance arose. A sagacious person, being informed of 
this, said, 


“ Canst thou tell what goes on above the sky, 

And not th’ interior of thy house descry ? ” 

Stoby XII. 

A preacher, who had a shocking voice, fancied it was 
very agreeable, and employed it in shouting to no pur- 
pose. The croaking of the raven [you would say] was in his 
modulations; and that that verse was intended for him, 
“ Verily the most detestable of sounds is the voice of an ass." 


Preacher Aba’ l-f awards brays— from far 
Persian Istakhar trembles at the jar . 835 

The people of the town, out of respect to the office he 
held, put up with the infliction, and did not think it right 
to annoy him : till at length, a preacher of that district, 
who had a secret spite against him, came to see him, and 
said, “ I have seen a dream ; I hope it will turn out well.” 
The other asked, “ What hast thou seen ? ” The visitor 

** M. Semelet thinks this couplet a quotation. He does, not, 
however, nor does any other author that I have seen, explain 
who Abu’l-fawaris [lit., “father of the horsemen”] is. 


answered, “ I beheld that thy voice was pleasant, and that 
people were delighted with thy discourse.” The preacher 
reflected a little on this, and said, “ What a fortunate 
dream it is that thou hast seen, by which thou hast ac- 
quainted me with my failings. I now understand that I 
have an unpleasant voice, and that people are distressed 
by my delivery. I vow amendment, and, in future, will 
never read except in a low voice.” 


I wearied of my friend’s society, 

Who my bad qualities as virtues shews ; 

Who, in my failings, can perfection see, 

And calls my thorns the jasmine and the rose. 

Give me the pert and watchful enemy, 

Who will my faults to me with zest disclose. 

Story XIII. 

A person was performing gratis the office of summoner 
to prayer in the mosque of Sanjariyah,® 36 in a voice which 
disgusted those who heard him. The patron of the 
mosque was a prince who was just and amiable. He did 
not wish to pain the crier, and said, “ 0 sir ! there are 
Muazzins attached to this mosque to whom the office 
has descended from of old, each of whom has an allowance 
of five dinars, and I will give thee ten to go to another 
place.” This was agreed upon, and he departed. After 

” 6 This mosque was built by Sultan Sanjar SaljukI, sixth 
Sultan of the Saljuks, who was the son of Malik Shah, and 
reigned over Persia and Khurasan. He performed many ex- 
ploits, and was called the second Alexander. As a mark of 
respect, prayers were read in his name in the mosques for a 
year after his decease. The Saljuks were originally Turkumans, 
and entered Trans-oxiana A.H. 375. Sultan Sanjar succeeded 
his brother Muhammad on the throne, A.H. 501. 


1 S7 

some time he returned to the prince and said, “ 0 my 
lord ! thou didst me injustice in sending me from this 
place for ten dinars. In the place whence I have come 
they offered me twenty dinars to go somewhere else, and 
I will not accept it.” The prince laughed and said, 
“ Take care not to accept it, for they will consent to give 
thee even fifty dinars.” 


No mattock can the clay remove from off the granite 

So well as thy discordant voice can make the spirit moan. 

Story XIV. 

A man with a harsh voice was reading the Kur’an in a 
loud tone. A sage passed by and asked, “What is thy 
monthly stipend ? ” He replied, “ Nothing.” Wherefore, 
then,” asked the sage, “dost thou give thyself this 
trouble ? ” He replied, “ I read for the sake of God.” 
“ Then,” said the sage, “ for God’s sake ! read not.” 


If in this fashion the Kur’an you read, 

You’ll mar the loveliness of Islam’s creed. 




Story I. 

They asked Hasan Maimandi, “How is it that, although 
Sultan Mahmud has so many handsome slaves, every one 
of whom is the wonder of the world, and the marvel of 
the age, he has not such a regard or affection for any 
one as for Ayaz , 237 who is not remarkable for beauty ? ” 
He replied, “ Whatever pleases the heart appears fair to 
the eye.” 


The man for whom the Sultan shews esteem, 
Though bad in every act, will virtuous seem. 

But whom the monarch pleases to reject. 

None of his retinue will e’er affect. 


When with antipathy we eye a man, 

We see in Joseph’s beauty, want of grace : 

And, prepossessed, should we a demon scan. 

He’d seem a cherub with an angel’s face. 

Story II. 

I remember that one night a dear friend of mine entered 
my door, and I rose from my seat with such impatience 
[to receive him] that I put out my lamp with my sleeve. 

Gladwin writes this name Iyaz, and I have followed him 
in my Vocabulary ; but with Semelet, Eoss, and Eichardson on 
the other side, I feel bound to adopt the spelling given above. 




By night a spectre came, and with its form lit up the gloom; 
Methought it well would suit me for a guide throughout the 
night . 238 

“ Hail l” I exclaimed, “ Well art thou come ! for thee is 
ample room ; 

I love thee, for the darkness flies before thy radiance bright.” 

I said, astonished at my destiny, 

“Whence has this happy fortune come to me ? ” 

He sate down and began to remonstrate with me, 
saying, “ Why, at the moment that thou sawest me, didst 
thou extinguish the lamp ? ” I replied, “ I imagined that 
the sun had entered ; and the witty have said, 


‘ If one obscure the lamp with presence vile, 

Arise and him before th’ assembly smite : 

But, if he have sweet lips and honeyed smile , 239 
Seize thou his sleeve, and then put out the light.’ ” 

Story HI. 

A person had not seen his friend for a long interval. 
At last he met him and said, “ Where wert thou ? for I 
longed after thee.” He replied, “Better longing than 

” These three lineB are not in Eoss, Gladwin or Semelet. 
I inserted them in my edition, and am now glad to find 
my judgment confirmed by Dr. Sprenger, in whose edition 
they are likewise to be found, with some trifling difference of 

They would be of no use in his radiant presence, which of 
itself would dispel the darkness. 



Gay idol of my soul ! late comest thou ! 

Not soon will I release thy garment now. 


’Tis better that our friend we seldom see, 

Than to behold him to satiety. 240 


When a fair one comes attended by companions, she 
comes only to torment us ; because, in that case, there 
must arise the jealousy and discord of rivals. 


Comest thou attended, then thou comest me only to distress ; 
Thou comest truly to make war, though peace thy looks 


But for an instant should my friend prefer 
To be with others, envy would me slay. 

“ Sadi ! ” he smiling cried, “Would this deter 
Me this assembly’s beacon ? what, I say, 

Imports it that in me moths quench life’s ray ! ” 

Story IV. 

I remember that, in former days, I and a friend of 
mine were so much associated together that we were like 
two kernels in one almond. All at once I happened to 
find it requisite to take a journey. When, after some 
time, I returned, he began to reproach me for not sending 
a messenger to him during such an interval. I replied, 
“ I was unwilling that the eyes of the messenger should 
be brightened by thy beauty, while I remained excluded.” 

I prefer the reading <0 bih to that of ^ ham in my edition, 
which, however, if read, must be taken with j~> ser. 




Friend of my youth ! cease now me to reprove ; 

Thy love not steel could make me e’er repent. 

That one should gaze his fill on thee does move 
My envy, yet my heart would soon relent — 

For seeing thee could ne’er his sight content. 

Story V. 

They shut up a parrot in a cage with a crow. The 
parrot was distressed at the ugly appearance of the other, 
and said, “ What hateful form is this, and detested shape, 
and accursed face, and unpolished manners ? 0 crow of 

the desert! would that between me and thee were the space 
’ twixt east and west !” 


Should one at dawn arising thy face see, 

’Twould change to twilight gloom that morning’s mirth. 
Such wretch as thou art should thy comrade be, 

But where could such a one be found on earth ! 

But still more strangely the crow, too, was harassed to 
death by the society of the parrot, and was utterly 
chagrined by it. Reciting the deprecatory formula, 
“There is no power nor strength but in God,” 811 it com- 
plained of its fate, and, rubbing one upon the other the 
hands of vexation, 212 it said, “ What evil fate is this, and 
unlucky destiny, and fickleness of fortune ! It would 
have been commensurate with my deserts to have walked 
proudly along with another crow on the wall of a garden. 

Ml This means, “There is no striving against fate.” “Nisi 
Dominus frustra.” See Kanun-i Islam, p. 835, Gloss., 66. 

242 The only meanings given for taghalun in the 

Dictionary are, “Defrauding one another.” “Neglecting, erring, 
straying.” None of these can we apply here. 




Twill for a prison to the good suffice, 

To herd them with the worthless sons of vice. 

What crime have I committed in punishment for which 
my fate has involved me in such a calamity, and im- 
prisoned me with a conceited fool like this, at once 
worthless and fatuous ? ” 


All would that wall with loathing fly 
Which bore impressed thy effigy : 

And if thy lot in Eden fell, 

All others would make choice of Hell. 

I have brought this example to show that, how strong 

soever the disgust a wise man may feel for a fool, a fool 

regards with a hundred times more aversion a wise man. 


A pious man, ’mid dance and song, was seated with the 

One of Balkh’s beauties saw him there, and marked the 
mirth decay : 

“ Do we, then, weary thee ? ” he said, “ at least, uncloud 
thy brow ; 

For we, too, feel thy presence here is bitterness enow. 


This social band like roses is and lilies joined in one, 

And ’mid them thou, a withered stick, upspringest all 
alone ; 

Like winter’s cruel cold art thou, or like an adverse 
blast, — 

Thou sittest there like fallen snow, ice-bound and frozen 



Story YI. 

I had a companion with whom I had for many years 
travelled, and with whom I had partaken of bread and 
salt, and the rights of friendship were established between 
us without reserve. Afterwards, on account of Borne 
trifling advantage, he suffered me to be displeased, and 
our friendship was broken off. Yet, notwithstanding 
all this, there was a feeling of attachment existing on 
both sides ; in accordance with which I heard that he 
one day repeated, in an assembly, these two couplets, 
taken from my works : — 


“ When my soul’s idol to me comes with laughter arch 
yet kind, 

She sprinkles salt upon my wound, and opes afresh the 
sore ; 

0 would that I could fondly grasp her tresses un confined ! 

As the skirt of the munificent is caught at by the 

A party of friends applauded the sentiment, not so much 
on account of the beauty of the verses as by reason of 
their own kind feeling. He, too, went beyond all of 
them in his eulogies, and expressed his regret for the 
extinction of our former intimacy, and confessed his 
fault. I saw that he, too, was eager for a renewal of our 
friendship. I sent him these verses, and effected our 


Were we not plighted to fidelity? 

Yet thou wert harsh and didst thyself estrange. 

When I left all and fixed my thoughts on thee, 

I knew not that so soon thou wouldest change ! 

Yet still, would’ st thou make peace, return to me, 

And then thou wilt more loved, more honoured, be. 



Story VII. 

A man had a beautiful wife, who died, and his wife’s 
mother, a decrepit old woman, on account of the marriage- 
settlement , 243 took up her abode, and fixed herself in his 
house. The man was vexed to death by her propinquity, 
yet he did not see how to get rid of her by reason of the 
settlement. Some of his friends came to inquire after 
him, and one of them said, “ How dost thou bear the loss 
of thy beloved one P ” He replied, “ The not seeing my 
wife is not so intolerable to me as the seeing her mother.” 

The tree has lost its roses, but retains 

Its thorn. The treasure’s gone, the snake 244 remains. 

’Tis better on the lance-point fixed to see 

One’s eye, than to behold an enemy. 

’Tis well a thousand friendships to erase 

Could we thereby avoid our foeman’s face. 

Story VIII. 

I remember that in my youth I was passing along a 
street when I beheld a moon-faced beauty. The season 
was that of the month July, when the fierce heat dried 
up the moisture of the mouth, and the scorching wind 
consumed the marrow of the bones. Through the weak- 
ness of human nature I was unable to support the power 
of the sun, and involuntarily took shelter under the shade 
of a wall, waiting to see if any one would relieve me from 
the pain I suffered, owing to the ardour of the sun’s rays, 

248 As he could not pay what he had covenanted to pay, 
when he married, his wife’s relations indemnified themselves by 
saddling him with the old lady, his wife’s mother. 

244 It is a popular Oriental notion that treasures are guarded 
by serpents. 



and cool my flame with water. All of a sudden, from the 
dark portico of a house, I beheld a bright form appear, of 
such beauty that the tongue of eloquence would fail in 
narrating her charms. She came forth as mom succeeding 
a dark night, or as the waters of life issuing from the 
gloom. She held in her hand a cup of snow-water, in 
which she had mixed sugar and the juice of the grape. 
I know not whether she had perfumed it with her own 
roses, or distilled into it some drops from the bloom of 
her countenance. In short, I took the cup from her fair 
hand, and drained its contents, and received new life. 
“ The thirst of my heart cannot be slaked with a drop of 
water , nor if I should drink rivers would it be lessened.” 


Most blest that happy one whose gaze intense 
Rests on such face at each successive mom ; 

The drunk with wine at midnight may his sense 
Regain ; but not till the last day shall dawn 
Will love’s intoxication reach its bourne. 

Story IX. 

Once, in the caravan of Hijaz, a darwesh accompanied 
us. One of the Arab chiefs had bestowed on him a 
hundred dinars, for the support of his family. All of a 
sudden the robbers of the tribe Khafachah attacked the 
caravan, and spoiled it of everything. The merchants 
began to weep and lament, and pour forth unavailing 


Thou mayest complain, or cry, Alack ! 

The thieves the gold will not give back. 

But that darwesh, in his tattered garb, retained his 
composure, and his manner underwent no change. I 
said, “ Perhaps they have not taken thy money ? ” He 


replied, “ Yes ! they have taken it. However, I had not 
such an attachment for that money 245 that I should 
break my heart at losing it.” 


Thy heart from loving thing or person guard ; 

For to recall affection is. most hard. 

I said, “ What thou hast uttered is fi-propos of my con- 
dition ; for in my youth I had formed a friendship with 
a young man, and entertained a sincere attachment for 
him to that degree that his beauty was the point of 
adoration of my eyes, and my intimacy with him as it 
were the interest on the capital of life. 


It may be angels do not ; man I trow 
Ne’er did his beauty equal on this earth. 

By friendship’s self friends are forbidden now. 

For after him his like shall ne’er find birth. 

Suddenly the foot of his existence went down into the 
clay of death, and the smoke of separation arose from his 
family . 946 I watched for days at the head of his grave, 
and this is one of the many things which I uttered 
touching his loss : — 


Death like a thorn transfixed thy foot. Ah ! then, 

Would that fate’s cruel sword me too had slain ; 

Then I’d ne’er missed thee from thy fellow-men. 

Thou on whose dust my head is laid — in vain ! 

Dust be on it ! [thou ne’er shalt breathe again]. 

443 The darwesh had only just got it as a present, and I 
imagine his words partly imply that he had not had time to 
grow fond of it. 

248 There is a play on words here which it is altogether im- 
possible to retain in English. JjJ dud, “ smoke,” also signifies 
“anguish;” and the word for “family” in Persian, 
dudman, strongly resembles it. 




He who, before he slept or took repose, 

Did roses and the jasmine round him fling ; 

Revolving time has shed his beauty’s rose, 

While from his ashes now the thorns upspring. 

After separation from him, I made a determination and 
a steadfast vow that, for the remainder of my life, I would 
fold up the carpet of desire and abstain from social 


Pleasant were the gains 247 of ocean, were there of the 
waves no fear ; 

Pleasant with the rose to dwell, were the thorn not lurking 

Peacock-like I walked exulting in love’s garden yester- 
night ; 

Snake-like now I writhe in anguish — she no more will 
glad my sight.” 

Stoby X. 

They told to one of the Arabian kings the story of 
Laila and Majnun, and of the insanity which happened 
to him, so that, although possessed of high qualities and 
perfect eloquence, he betook himself to the desert and 
abandoned the reins of choice. After commanding them 
to bring him into his presence, the king began to rebuke 
him, saying, “ What defect hast thou seen in the noble- 
ness of man’s nature that thou hast taken up the habits 
of an animal, and bidden adieu to the happiness of human 
society?” Majnun wept and said, 


“ Oft have my friends reproached me for my love : 

The day will come they’ll see her and approve . 

941 That is, by traffic in ships. 

1 68 



Would that those who seek to blame me 
Could thy face, 0 fairest ! see ; 

Theirs would then the loss and shame be : 

While amazed, intent on thee, 

They would wound their hands while they 
Careless with the orange 248 play : 

That the truth of the reality might testify to the appear- 
ance I claim for her ! ” The king was inspired with a 
desire to behold her beauty, in order to know what sort 
of person it was who was the cause of such mischief. He 
commanded, and they sought for her, and, searching 
through the Arab families, found her, and brought her 
before the king, in the court of the royal pavilion. The 
king surveyed her countenance, and beheld a person of a 
dark complexion and weak form. She appeared to him 
so contemptible that he thought the meanest of the ser- 
vants of his haram superior to her in beauty and grace. 
Majnun acutely discerned his thoughts and said, “ 0 
king ! it is requisite to survey the beauty of Laila from 
the window of the eye of Majnun, in order that the 
mystery of the spectacle may he revealed to you.” 

*“ I have amplified these lines a little. The allusion is to 
the story of Joseph and Zulaikha, the wife of Potiphar. In the 
12th chapter of the Kur’au we read, “ And certain women said 
publicly in the city, ‘The nobleman’s wife asked her servant 
to lie with her ; he hath inflamed her breast with his love, and 
we perceive her to be in a manifest error.’ And when she heard 
of this subtle behaviour she sent unto them, and prepared a 
banquet for them, and she gave to each of them a knife ; and 
she said unto Joseph, ‘Come forth unto them.’ And when 
they saw him , they praised him greatly ; and they cut their 
own hands, and said, ‘ This is not a mortal,’ ” etc. 



Unmoved with pity thou me hear’ at complain ; 

I need a comrade who can share my pain : 

The livelong day I’d then my woes recite ; 

Wood with wood joined will ever bum more bright. 


“ What passed within my hearing of the grove, 

0 forest leaves ! did ye hut learn, 

Ye’d mourn with me. My friends ! tell him whom love 
Has spared, I would he did hut bum 
With lovers flames ; he'd then my grief discern.” 


Scars may be laughed at by the sound. 

But to a fellow- sufferer reveal 
Thy anguish. Of the hornet’s wound 
What reck they who did never feel 
Its sting ? Till fortune shall bring round 
Thy woes to thee, they will but seem 
The weak illusions of a dream. 

Do not my sufferings confound 

With those of others. Canst thou deem 
One holding salt 249 can tell the pain of him 
Who has salt rubbed upon his wounded limb ? 

Story XI. 

(in verse.) 

A gallant youth there was and fair 
Pledged to a maid beyond compare ; 

They on the sea, as poets tell, 

Together in a whirlpool fell. 

“* This is a favourite comparison of Oriental poets. Kubbing 
salt on a wound is a proverbial expression with them. 


The boatman came the youth to save — 

To snatch him from his watery grave : 

But, ’mid those billows of despair, 

He cried, “ My love ! my love is there ! 

Save her, oh save ! ” he said, and died ; 

But with his parting breath he cried, 

“ Not from that wretch love’s story hear 
Who love forgets when peril’s near.” 

Together thus these lovers died. 

Be told by him who love has tried ; 

For Sadi knows each whim and freak 
Of love, — as well its ways can speak 
As Baghdad’s dwellers Arabic. 

Hast thou a mistress ? her then prize, 

And on all others close thine eyes. 

Could Majnun and his Laila back return, 

They might love’s story from this volume learn. 

I 7 I 



Story I. 

I was engaged in a dispute with some learned men in 
the principal mosque of Damascus. Suddenly a young 
man entered the door, and said, “ Is there any one among 
you who knows the Persian language ? ” They pointed 
to me. I said, “ Is all well ? ”“° He replied, “An old 
man, of a hundred and fifty years of age, is in the 
agonies of death, and says something to me in Persian, 
which is not intelligible to me. If thou wouldest he so 
kind as to trouble thyself so far as to step with me thou 
wilt be rewarded. 251 It may be that he wants to make 
his will.” When I reached his pillow, he said this, 

*“ M. Semelet translates “Cela est vrai,” in which he appears 
to me to mistake the Bense altogether. The expression t. 

lekair ast, corresponds to our “ What is the matter? ” hut 
I have translated it literally. A similar expression occurs in 
the 2nd hook of Kings, chapter v. verse 21, “He lighted down 
from the chariot to meet him, and said, 1 Is all well ?’” Of 
M. Semelet’s MSS., one reads Malar chut; and 

another, i^~j! A>- chih Midmat ast, “ What is the 

news ? ” and, “ What service can I do you ? ” 

851 That is, by God. 

» 7 * 



“ Methought a few short moments I would spend 
As my soul wished ; alas ! I gasp for air. 

At the rich board, where all life’s dainties blend, 

I sate me down — partook a moment there, 

When, ah ! they bade me leave the scarcely tasted 

I repeated the meaning of these words to the Damascenes 
in Arabic. They marvelled at his having lived so long, 
and yet grieving for worldly life. I said to him, “ How 
dost thou find thyself under present circumstances ? ” 
He replied, “ What shall I say ? ” 


“ Hast thou ne’er marked his agony, 

Out from whose jaw a tooth is wrenched ? 

Then think what must his feelings be, 

Whose life, dear life, is being quenched ! ” 

I said, “Dismiss from thy mind the idea of death, and 
let not thine imagination conquer thy nature; for the 
philosophers have said, * Though the constitution may be 
vigorous, we are not to rely upon it as gifted with 
perpetuity, and, though a disease may be terrible, it 
furnishes no positive proof of a fatal termination.’ If 
thou wilt give us leave, we will send for a physician, 
in order that he may use remedies for thy recovery.” 
He replied, “ Alas ! 


The master’s bent on garnishing 
His house, which, sapped, is falling in ; 

The skilful leech, in mute despair, 

Together smites his hands as there 
He marks, like broken potsherd, lie 
The poor old man outstretched to die. 



The old man groans in parting pain ; 

His wile the sandal 255 rubs in vain : 

But once unpoise our nature frail, 

Nor cure nor amulet avail.” 

Story II. 

An old man, descanting about himself, said, “ I had 
espoused a young maiden, and adorned my room with 
flowers, and, sitting alone with her, fastened on her my 
eyes and my heart. Through long nights I never slept, 
but passed the time in narrating witty jests and amusing 
stories, in order to dispel her coyness, and to make her 
attached to me. Am ong other things, I said to her one 
night, ‘Thy lofty fate befriended thee, and the eye of 
thy happy destiny was open, that thou hast fallen into 
the arms of an old man, prudent and acquainted with the 
world ; one who has tasted the vicissitudes of fortune, and 
experienced good and evil; who knows what is required 
in social intercourse, and performs all the conditions of 
friendship, and who is kind and considerate, cheerful and 
gentle in his language. 


To win thy heart shall be my lot ; 

Though thou griev’st me, I’ll grieve thee not. 

Is sugar, parrot-like, thy food : 

Be thou with my life’s sweetness wooed. 

Thou hast not fallen a prey to a young man, self-conceited 
and rude, headstrong and fickle, who each moment takes 

Preparations of sandal-wood are used by Orientals for 
rubbing the body, and are thought to be cooling and restorative. 
Thus in the Prem Sagar, p. 85, 1. 29, of my translation, “ Thou 
hast removed my weariness ; having met me, thou hast given to 
me cool sandal.” 


a new whim, and changes his opinion every instant, and 
sleeps every night in a different place, and gets a new 
mistress every day. 


Young men are gay and fair to see, 

But wanting in fidelity. 

Who can the bulbul true suppose. 

That, singing, flits from rose to rose ? 

But the class of old men pass their life according to the 
dictates of reason; not in those things which ignorant 
youth wishes for. 


A better than thyself seek out and prize ; 

For with one like thyself time vainly flies.’ ” 

The old man said, “ I spoke much more after this fashion, 
and I imagined I had got possession of her heart, and 
secured her affections. Suddenly she heaved a cold sigh 
from a heart full of melancholy, and said, ‘ All the words 
that thou hast uttered do not weigh so much in the 
balance of my reason as that one word which I heard 
from my nurse, “ That to have her side pierced with an 
arrow was better for a young woman, than to have an old 
husband.’” In short, it was not possible for us to agree, 
and a separation was decided upon. The period of 
probation after divorce 253 elapsed. They united her in 
the nuptial bands with a youth irascible and cross-looking, 
destitute of fortune, and on the watch for a pretext to 
quarrel. She had to endure harshness and violence, and 
to submit to annoyance and vexation, and, nevertheless, 

“ The period for which a woman must wait before marrying 
again, after her husband’s death, is four months and ten days. 
After divorce, she must wait three menstrual periods. This is 
to see if she be pregnant by her former husband. Vide Kanun-i 
Islam, p. 147 ; Kur’an, ch. ii. ver. 229, 235. 



she returned thanks to heaven for her blessings, saying, 
‘ Praise be to God ! that I have escaped from that ex- 
cruciating torment and arrived at this blissful condition. 


Spite of thy passion and thy frowning brow, 

I’ll bear thy airs, for beautiful art thou ! 


. Better with thee be tortured and consume, 

Than with another Eden’s bowers possess : 

More sweet from beauty’s mouth the onion’s fume, 
Than roses from the hand of ugliness.’ ” 

Story III. 

In the country of Diyarbakr , 851 I was the guest of an 
old man, who possessed great riches, and a handsome son. 
One night he told me that in his whole life he had never 
had but this one son. There was a tree, he said, in that 
valley to which pilgrimages were made, and whither 
persons resorted to pray for what they needed ; and that 
he, too, had wept for many nights, at the foot of that 
tree, in prayer to God, who had bestowed on him this son. 
I heard his son whisper softly to his companions, “Would 
that I knew where that tree is, that I might pray there 
for my father’s death ! ” 


Long years, successive years have gone, 

Since thou didst visit at thy father's grave ; 

What filial actions hast thou done. 

That from thy son thou should’ st like worship crave ? 

Story IY. 

One day, in the pride of my youth, I had travelled 
hard, and at night stopped, much fatigued, at the foot 

** Anciently called Mesopotamia. 



of a mountain. An infirm old man, who followed the 
caravan, said to me, “Arise ! this is not a place to slumber 
in.” I replied, “ How can I proceed, when I have not 
the power to stir a foot ? ” He rejoined, “ Hast thou not 
heard that they have said, ‘ It is better to walk and rest, 
than to run and be oppressed ? ’ ” 


Thou who wouldst reach the halting-place, haste not ; 

Be patient ! and my counsel hear aright : 

Two courses may be sped by charger hot ; 

The mule goes slowly, but goes day and night. 

Stohy V. 

In the circle of my acquaintance there was a sprightly 
and amiable youth, gay and soft-spoken, who had not a 
particle of melancholy in his composition, and whose 
mouth was never closed for laughter. An interval passed 
during which I did not happen to meet him. After that, 
I saw him when he had married a wife, and his children 
were growing up, and the root of his contentment was 
severed, and the rose of his desires withered. I asked 
him, “ What is this state of thine ? ” He replied, “ As 
soon as I had got boys I left off play.” 


When thou art old thy pastimes put away : 

Leave frolics to the young and mirthful play. 


The youth’s gay humour seek not from the old 
The stream returns not which has onward rolled. 

Hot so elastic bends the yellow com 

As the young blade before the breeze of mom. 




Youth’s circling hours have passed for aye away ; 

Ah me ! alas that that gay time is spent ! 

The lion feels his strength of paw decay ; 

Now, like a pard, with cheese-scraps I’m content. 

An aged dame had dyed her locks of grey ; 

“ Granted,” I said, “ thy hair with silver blent 
May cheat us now ; yet, little mother ! say, 

Canst thou make straight thy hack, which time has 
bent ? ” 

Story VI. 

One day, in the ignorance and folly of youth, I raised 
my voice against my mother. Cut to the heart, she sate 
down in a corner and said, weeping, “ Perhaps thou hast 
forgotten thy infancy, that thou treatest me with this 
rudeness P ” 


Well said that aged mother to her son 
Whose giant arm could well a tiger slay ! 

“ Couldst thou remember days long past and gone, 
When in my arms a helpless infant lay, 

And know thyself that babe, thou wouldst not now 
Thus wrong me when I’m old ; an athlete thou ! ” 

Story VII. 

The son of a rich miser was sick. The father’s friends 
said to him, “ The course to be adopted is to read through 
the Kur’an from beginning to end, or to offer up a 
sacrifice. It may be that the Most High God will grant 
him recovery.” He reflected for a short space, and said, 
“ It is better to read the Kur’an, as it is at hand ; 
whereas the flock is at a distance.” A devout person 



heard him, and said, “ He made choice of the reading, 
because the Kur’an is on the tip of his tongue, and the 
gold is in the centre of his heart.” 


In sooth, it is an easy task to do, 

To bow the neck ; but were alms needed too 
’Twere hard indeed. One dinar but require, 

And, like an ass, he flounders in the mire ; 

But for a chapter of the Kuran call, — 

Ask only one, he’ll gladly give thee all. 

Story VIII. 

They asked an old man why he did not marry. He 
replied, “ I don’t think I could fancy an old woman.” 
They rejoined, “ Espouse a young one, since thou hast 
substance.” “Nay,” he rejoined, “when I, who am old, 
do not like old women, how is it possible for a young 
woman to like me, an old man?” 




Story I. 

A certain vazlr had a stupid son, whom he sent to a 
wise man, saying, “Instruct him; perhaps he may become 
intelligent.” The sage spent a long time in teaching 
him, without effect. At last he sent a person to his 
father, with this message, “This boy does not gain in 
understanding, and has driven me mad.” 


Is our first nature such that teaching can 
Affect it, soon instruction will take root : 

But iron, which at first imperfect ran 

Forth from the furnace, who then can imbue it 

With the capacity of polish ? So 

In the seven 255 seas wouldst thou a dog make clean ? 
When wet, ’tis fouler than it erst has been. 

Story II. 

A philosopher was advising his children as follows: 
“ Dear to me as life ! acquire knowledge ; for there is 

“* The Orientals delight in the number seven. One list of 
the seven seas comprises the Chinese, the Indian, the Persian, 
the Ked Sea, the Mediterranean, the Caspian, and the Euxine. 


no reliance to be placed in worldly possessions, either of 
land or money. You cannot take rank abroad with you ; 
and silver and gold on a journey occasion risk, and either 
the thief may carry it off at one swoop, or the owner 
will gradually expend it : but knowledge is an ever- 
springing fountain, and a source of enduring wealth, and 
if an accomplished person ceases to be wealthy it matters 
not, for his knowledge is wealth existing in his mind 
itself. Wherever the accomplished man goes he is 
esteemed, and is seated in the place of honour, while the 
man without accomplishments has, go where he will, to 
pick up scraps and endure raps. 


’Tis hard t’ obey for those who have borne rule, 

Or fortune’s minions in rough ways to school. 


In Syria once commotions so arose 

That discord shook each person from his hearth. 
Eftsoons the king his vazlrship bestows 

On peasants’ sons, wise, though of lowly birth : 

The vazir’s dullard children in their stead, 

Through town and hamlet humbly beg their bread. 


Learn what thy father knew, if thou wouldst hold 
His place. In ten days thou wilt spend his gold.” 

Stoey III. 

A learned man had the education of a king’s son, and 
used to beat him unmercifully, and scold him incessantly. 
The boy, unable to endure it, complained to his father, 
and removed his dress from his body, which was aching 
with blows. The father’s heart was troubled, and, sending 
for the instructor, he said, “ Thou dost not think it right 


to treat the children of any one of my subjects with such 
cruelty and harshness as thou shewest to my son. What 
is the reason of this ? ” He replied, “ All persons ought 
to speak with reflection, and act with propriety : hut this 
is especially requisite for kings, for whatever comes from 
their hand or lips, will assuredly he the common topic of 
conversation ; while the words and actions of common 
people have not so much weight. 


A hundred evil acts the poor may do, 

Their comrades of the hundred know hut one ; 

But region after region permeates through 
One evil action by a monarch done. 

Wherefore, in correcting the manners of princes, we 
ought to use greater strictness than in reference to others. 


They who in youth to manners ne’er attend, 

Will in advancing years small gain acquire : 

Wood, while ’tis green, thou mayst at pleasure bend ; 
When dry, thou canst not change it save by fire. 

Surely green branches thou mayst render straight ; 

Th’ attempt to straighten dry wood comes too late.” 

The king approved of the sage counsel of the master, and 
of the manner in which he had spoken, and bestowed on 
him a robe of honour and rich presents, at the same time 
advancing him to a higher rank. 

Story IY. 

I saw, in Africa, a schoolmaster of a sour countenance 
and harsh address, ill-natured, cruel, mulish and intem- 
perate ; such that the very sight of him dispelled the 

I 8 2 


pleasure of Muslims, and whose reading of the Kur’an 
threw a gloom over men’s hearts. A multitude of fair 
hoys and young maidens were surrendered to his cruel 
grasp, who neither dared to laugh, nor durst venture on 
conversing. Sometimes he would box the silver cheeks 
of the latter, and put the crystal legs of the former in the 
stocks. In short, I heard that people came to the know- 
ledge of some of his disloyal acts, on which they beat 
him, and expelled him, and gave his school to a man of 
conciliating temper — a pious, good and meek person, who 
never uttered a word but when compelled, and never said 
anything which could distress any one. The children 
forgot the awe they had been wont to feel for their 
former master, when they saw that the present one 
possessed the qualities of an angel, and became demons 
to each other, and, depending on his mildness, abandoned 
study, and spent the chief part of their time in play, and, 
without finishing their copies, broke their tablets on each 
other’s heads. 


When the schoolmaster gentle is and sweet, 

The boys will play at leap-frog in the street. 

Two weeks after, I passed by the door of the mosque, 
and saw there the former master, whom they had pacified 
and reinstated in his former office. I was sadly vexed, 
and uttering the deprecatory formula, "There is no power 
but in God,” I said, “Why have they a second time 
made Iblis the instructor of angels ? ” An old man, 
who knew the world, heard me, and said, “ Hast thou not 
heard that they have said : 


‘ A monarch sent his son to school, and placed 
A silver tablet round his neck, where, traced 
In gold, appeared — “ The fondness of thy sire 
Will harm thee more than the schoolmaster’s ireP” ’ ” 



Stoky v. 

The son of a religious personage acquired incalculable 
riches by the bequest of his uncles. He began to indulge 
in licentiousness and impiety, and entered on a course of 
extravagance. In short, there was no sinful or criminal 
action that he failed to commit, nor intoxicating liquor 
that he abstained from drinking. At last I said to him, 
by way of admonition, “ 0 my son ! income is a passing 
current, and pleasure a revolving min. In other words, 
a prodigal expenditure is safe only for one who has a 
permanent and settled revenue. 


Hast thou no income — then thy wantB restrain ; 

For ever sing the boatmen merrily : 

‘ If on the mountain-summits fell no rain, 

One year would make the Tigris channel dry.’ 

Betake thyself to a rational and moderate life, and give 
up thy follies; for, when thy wealth is exhausted, thou wilt 
have to endure hardship, and wilt suffer remorse.” The 
youth, seduced by the delights of music and wine, was 
deaf to my advice, and rejected my counsel, saying, “It 
is opposed to the opinion of the wise to disturb, by fore- 
bodings of death, the pleasures of this transitory life. 


Through fear of ill should fortune’s favourites 
Make for themselves ills that are premature ? 

Be happy thou in whom my heart delights ! 

Nor thus to-day to-morrow’s pangs endure. 

Much less should I do as thou sayest, I who hold the 
highest rank for generosity, and have made a compact 
to be liberal, and the fame of whose munificence is blazed 
abroad among all classes. 



Whom mankind with the name of * Generous ' grace 25 ® 
Must on his dirams no restriction place : 

When our good fame pervades the public street. 

We must no suitor with denial meet.” 

I saw that he did not accept my advice, and that my 
warm breath made no impression on his cold iron. I left 
off counselling him, and turned away from his society. 
I seated myself in the comer of security, and put in 
practice that saying of the sages, which they have uttered : 
" Convey to them that which it behove » thee to say, and then, 
\f they receive it not, what does it concern thee ? ” 


What though thou know’st they will not hearken, still 
Thy warning counsel give — ’tis best. 

Soon shalt thou see the man of headstrong will 
With his two legs by fetters pressed ; 

Smiting his hands, he cries, in accents shrill, 

“ To hearken to the sage is best.” 

After some time, what I had anticipated as to his 
downfall, came to pass, for he had to sew rag to rag and 
beg scrap by scrap. My heart was pained at his wretched 
state. I thought it unkind, in his then condition, to 
irritate and scatter salt on the wound of the poor man by 
reproaches ; but I said to myself, 


“ The profligate, in pleasure’s ecstacy, 

Dreads not the coming day of poverty : 

Trees that in summer fruits profusely bear, 

Stand, therefore, leafless in the wintry air.” 

u ' The first and fourth lines are freely rendered. The literal 
trurmliitiou )f the first is, “Whoever has become an ensign by 
Lt* liberally and bounty; ” and of the fourth, “ Thou canst not 
1 Jen.: thi! d. or on any face.”. 



Story VI. 

A king handed over his son to a teacher, and said, 
“ This is my son ; educate him as one of thine own sons.” 
The preceptor spent some years in endeavouring to teach 
him without success, while his own sons were made perfect 
in learning and eloquence. The king took the preceptor 
to task, and said, “Thou hast acted contrary to thy agree- 
ment, and hast not been faithful to thy promise.” He 
replied, “ O King ! education is the same, hut capacities 


Silver and gold ’tis true in stones are found ; 

Yet not all stones the precious metals bear : 
Canopus shines to earth’s most distant hound ; 

But here gives leather — scented leather there. 257 

Story VII. 

I have heard of an old doctor who said to a pupil, “ If 
the minds of the children of men were as much fixed on 
the Giver of subsistence as they are on the subsistence 
itself, they would rise above the angels.” 


Thou wast by God then not forgotten when 
Thou wast a seed — thy nature in suspense ; 

He gave thee soul and reason, wisdom, ken, 

Beauty and speech, reflection, judgment, sense ; 

He on thy hand arrayed thy fingers ten, 

And thy arms fastened to thy shoulders. Whence 

Canst thou then think, 0 thou most weak of men ! 

He’d be unmindful of thy subsistence ? 

257 That is, the light of Canopus in one place causes the 
leather to be perfumed (a strange notion!), in another leaves 
it in its common state. 

1 86 


Story VIII. 

I saw an Arab who was saying to his son, “ 0 my son ! 
thou wilt be asked, in the day of resurrection, What hast thou 
acquired ? not, From whom hast thou sprung?" or, in 
other words, they will demand of thee an account of thy 
actions, not of thy pedigree. 


The pall suspended o’er the K Shah's shrine 
Not from the yellow worm 259 derives its fame ; 

But it has dwelt some days near the Divine, 

And therefore do men venerate its name. 

Story IX. 

Philosophers tell us, in their writings, that scorpions 
are not engendered in the same way as other animals, but 
that they devour the entrails of their mothers, rend their 
bellies, and go forth to the desert ; and the skins which 
men see in the holes of scorpions are the vestiges which 
are thus left. I mentioned this extraordinary circum- 
stance to an eminent personage. He said, “ My heart 
testifies to the truth of this legend, and it can hardly be 
otherwise; for since, when little, they behave thus to 
their mothers and fathers, they are, consequently, so 
pleasant and beloved when they grow old.” 


This counsel to his son a father gave : 

“ Dear youth ! to recollect these words be thine, — 

Who for their kinsmen no affection have, 

On them the star of fortune ne’er will shine.” 

This sentence, being in Arabic, is afterwards explained in 
Persian, which gives the appearance of tautology in English. 

m The silk- worm. 




They said to a scorpion, “Why dost thou not come abroad 
in winter ? ” He replied, “ What respect is shewn to me 
in summer, that I should shew myself in winter also ? ” 

Story X. 

The wife of a darwesh was pregnant, and her time was 
completed. The darwesh, throughout his life, had never 
had a son. He said, “ If God (may He be honoured and 
glorified !) gives me a son, I will bestow on my brethren 
all that I possess, with the exception of the garb I wear.” 
It happened that his wife did bear a son. He made 
rejoicings, and, in accordance with his vow, prepared an 
entertainment for his friends. After some years, when I 
returned from travelling in Syria, I passed by the quarter 
where that darwesh resided, and inquired as to his cir- 
cumstances. They replied, “He is in the Government 
prison.” I asked the cause. They told me that his son 
had drunk intoxicating liquors, and raised an uproar, and, 
after shedding a man’s blood, had fled the city ; and that, 
on account of this, they had put a chain round his father’s 
neck and heavy fetters on his feet. I exclaimed, “ It was 
this calamitous monster whom he besought God to grant 
to him. ” 


Wise friend ! ’tis better that the fruitful bride 
In parturition should a serpent bear 
Rather than sons (for thus the wise decide) — 

Sons who respond not to a father’s care. 

Story XI. 

One year a quarrel arose among the pilgrims who were 
going on foot to Makkah. I also happened to be making 
the journey on foot. We fell upon one another tooth and 

1 88 


nail with a vengeance, and did all that could be possibly 
expected from lewd fellows and combatants. I heard 
one who sate in a litter say to his companion, “ Passing 
strange ! the ivory 3 ® pawn, on completing its traverse 
of the chess-board, becomes a queen, that is to say, it 
becomes better than it was, and the foot-pilgrims to 
Makkah have crossed the desert and become worse ! ” 


Go, tell for me the pilgrims who offend 

Their brother men, and cruel would them flay. 

To them none can the pilgrim’s name extend ; 

The patient camel earns it more than they, 

Who feeds on thorns, nor does his task gainsay. 

Story XII. 

A Hindu was teaching the art of making fireworks. A 
sage said to him: “ For thee, with thy house of reeds, 
this sport is out of all rule.” 


Speak not until thou knowest speech is best, 

Nor that of which the answer is unblest. 

Story XIII. 

A fellow had a pain in his eyes, and went to a farrier, 
saying, “Give me medicine.” The farrier applied to his 
eyes the remedies he was in the habit of using for 
animals, and blinded him, on which he complained to the 
magistrate, who pronounced that he could not recover 
damages ; “ For,” said he, “ if this fellow had not been 
an ass, he would not have consulted a farrier.” The 
moral of the story is, that whoever commits an affair of 

280 There is a very good pun between aj, “ ivory,” and 
^Ap- hdj, “pilgrimage to Makkah,” which cannot be retained 
in English. 



importance to an inexperienced person will smart for it, 
and, in addition, will be considered an imbecile by persons 
of intelligence. 


The prudent man of clear intelligence 

Not to the mean will weighty things commit : 

Mat-makers weave, ’tis true, yet, hast thou sense, 
Thou’lt not think weaving silk robes for them fit. 

Story XIY. 

A certain great man had an amiable son, who died. 
They asked the father what they should write on his 
grave-stone. He replied, “ The verses of the Holy Book 
are too venerable and sacred to be written on such places, 
where they may be effaced by the weather, and the 
trampling of men’s feet, and desecrated by dogs. If ye 
must write something, these two couplets will suffice : — 


Ah me ! when in the garden freshly green 

Upsprang the verdure, how my heart was gay ! 

Wait, friend ! till spring renascent tints the scene, 
And mark young rosebuds blossom from my clay. 

Story XY. 

A holy man passed by a wealthy personage, and ob- 
served that he had tightly bound one of his slaves hand 
and foot, and was engaged in torturing him. He said, 
“ 0 son ! G-od (may He be honoured and glorified ! ) has 
placed in bondage to thee a creature like thyself, and 
given thee the superiority over him ; thank God Most 
High, therefore, for His blessings, and do not allow thyself 
to treat him with such cruelty. Beware, lest to-morrow, 
in the day of resurrection, this slave be better than thee, 
and thou carry off disgrace. 



Not over ireful with thy servant be. 

Nor plague his heart, nor practise tyranny. 

Thou with ten dirams didst him purchase, true ! 

Not thine the Power from whence his breath he drew. 

Soon must thou anger, rule, and pride resign : 

There is a Lord whose sway surpasses thine. 

Thou’rt master of Arslan and Aghush M1 yet ; 

Beware, lest thine own Master thou forget.” 

It is related of the Prophet (on whom be peace !) that he 
said, that the bitterest of all regrets will be when they 
transport the good slave to paradise and convey the 
impious master to hell. 


Not ’gainst the slaves that in thy service bow 
Rage thou without restraint, or madly chafe : 

In the last day of reckoning wouldst thou 
Mark, with shamed soul and agonised brow. 

The master fettered and the bondsman safe ? 

Stoky XYI. 

In a certain year I journeyed from Balkh with some 
Syrians, and the road was replete with peril from robbers. 
A young man accompanied us as guide, skilled in the use 
of the buckler and the bow, trained to arms, and of 
prodigious strength, so that ten powerful men could not 
string his bow, nor the greatest athletes in the world 
bring his back to the ground ; but he had been delicately 
brought up, and reared in indulgence, and had neither 
seen the world nor travelled. The thundering drum of 
the warrior had not reached his ears, nor the flash of the 
horseman’s scymitar glittered in his eyes. 

281 Names of slaves, used generally to denote any bondsmen. 




To a stem foe ne’er captive had lie been, 

Nor iron rain of arrows round him seen. 

It happened that I and this young man were running one 
after the other. Every old wall that came in the way he 
cast down with the strength of his arm, and tore up with 
the force of his wrist all the large trees that he beheld, 
and he boastingly exclaimed, 


Where is the elephant, to see the arms and shoulders of 
the strong ? 

The lion where, to feel the powers which to men of might 
belong ? ” 

We were thus engaged when two Hindus 282 lifted up 
their heads from behind a rock, and seemed prepared to 
slay us. One had a stick in his hand, and the other a 
sling under his arm. I said to the young man, “ Why 
dost thou stop ? ” 


Now what thou hast of strength and courage shew ; 
For of himself to death comes on thy foe. 

I beheld the bow and arrows drop from the hand of the 
young man, and a tremor pervade his frame. 


Not all whose forceful shaft could strike a hair, 

Where warriors charge, would stand unshaken there. 

There is little doubt that Afghanistan was, at no very 
remote sera, peopled by Indians who were driven out by the 
Afghans, and other northern tribes, and this passage seems to 
me a proof of it. Otherwise, whence could come these Hindus 
on the road between Balkh and Syria. 



We saw no remedy but to give up our clothes and arms 
and get free with our lives. 


A veteran choose for deeds of high emprise 
He the fierce Hon in his noose will tame ; 

The youth may mighty be, of giant size, 

But in the fight fear will unnerve his frame : 
War to the well-trained warrior is the same 

As some nice quillet of the law is to the wise. 

Story XYII. 

I saw the son of a rich man seated at the head of his 
father’s sepulchre, and engaged in a dispute with the son 
of a poor man, and saying, “ My father’s sarcophagus is 
of stone, and the inscription coloured with a pavement of 
alabaster and turquoise bricks. What resemblance has it 
to that of thy father ? which consists of a brick or two 
huddled together, with a few handfuls of dust sprinkled 
over it.” The son of the poor man heard him, and 
answered, “ Peace ! for before thy father can have moved 
himself under this heavy stone, my sire will have arrived 
in paradise. This is a saying of the Prophet : ‘ The 
death of the poor is repose 


Doubtless tbe ass, on which they do impose 
The lightest burthen, also easiest goes. 


The poor man, who the agony has borne 

Of famine’s pangs, treads lightly to the door 
Of death. While one from blessings torn — 

From luxury and ease — will grieve the more 
To lose them. This is certain. Happier he 
Whom, like a captive, death from bonds sets free, 
Than great men, whom it hurries to captivity.” 



Story XYIII. 

I asked an eminent personage the meaning of this 
traditionary saying, “ The most malignant of thy enemies is 
the lust which abides within thee." He replied, “It is 
because every enemy on whom thou conferrest favours 
becomes a friend, save lust ; whose hostility increases the 
more thou dost gratify it.” 


By abstinence, man might an angel he ; 

By surfeiting, his nature brutifies : 

Whom thou obligest will succumb to thee — 

Save lusts, which, sated, still rebellious rise. 

Story XIX., 



I once saw seated in an assembly a person in the garb 
of a darwesh — not with the character of one — engaged 
in pouring out a disgraceful tirade, and uttering a volume 
of abuse and reproachful language against the rich. His 
discourse, moreover, had reached this point, that the hands 
of poor men are tied from doing anything, while the feet 
of rich men’s intentions are lame. 


The merciful are ever moneyless ; 

Hardhearted they who have the power to bless. 

I, who have been supported by the munificence of the 
great, disapproved of this speech. I said, “ 0 friend ! 
the rich are a revenue to the poor, and storehouses for the 
recluse ; the pilgrim’s goal; the traveller’s refuge; and 
the supporters of heavy burthens for the gratification of 
others. When they stretch forth their hands to their 
repast, their dependents and inferiors partake with them, 




and what is left of their bounty comes to the widowed 
and the old, and to their relatives and neighbours. 


Offerings to God, bequests to furnish ease 
To the worn traveller, enfranchisement 
Of slaves, alms, gifts, and sacrifices — these 

Are rich men’s works. Say, when wilt thou invent 
Like merits for thyself, who canst but pray, 

With twice a hundred wanderings , 263 twice a day ? 

If the question be as to the power of doing liberal actions 
and the discharge of religious duties, they are seen to be 
possessed in a higher degree by the rich, because they 
possess wealth hallowed by the usage of giving alms, pure 
garments, a reputation intact, and a heart free from care. 
And good meals greatly facilitate worship, just as clean 
garments have no little weight in sanctifying our devo- 
tions, for what strength is there in an empty stomach, or 
what liberality in an empty hand P How can the fettered 
feet walk, or the hungry belly bestow alms P 


The man at night uneasy sleeps, 

Who knows not how to gain to-morrow’s bread : 

The ant in summer corn upheaps ; 

’Tis thus in winter with abundance fed. 

It is certain that leisure and poverty will not combine, 
and the mind of the indigent cannot be at ease. The rich 
man hallows the evening in prayer, and the poor man 
seats himself on the look-out for his supper. The former 
will admit of no comparison with the latter. 

“ That is, of mind. Ross and Gladwin translate 
parUhanl, “difficulties,” which is hardly the meaning. Semelet 
is nearer the sense with “ attractions.” I have altered the 
“hundred” to “twice a hundred,” to render the line more 


1 95 


The rich man is with thoughts of God impressed : 

The needy is for such thoughts too distressed. 

Wherefore the worship of the former is more likely to be 
accepted, inasmuch as their minds are collected and 
attentive, not distracted and wavering; for, as they are 
prepared with the means of subsistence, they can betake 
themselves to their devotions. The Arabians say, ‘ God 
defend me from humiliating poverty, and from the neigh- 
bourhood of one I do not love ! ’ And tradition tells us 
that it was a saying of the Prophet, ' Poverty blackens the 
countenance in' both worlds’ ” My opponent replied, “Hast 
thou not heard that the Prophet (on whom be peace ! ) 
said, ‘Poverty is my glory’?’’ I answered, "Be silent! 
for the allusion of the Lord of the world is to the poverty 
of those who are the warriors of the battle-field of 
resignation and who receive with submission the arrows 
of destiny — not to that of those who put on the patched 
robe of the devout, and sell the scraps bestowed on them 
in charity. 


O noisy drum, all emptiness within, 

How without food wilt thou thy march begin ! 

Be manly, and from cringing cease : for this 
Than thousand- beaded rosaries better is . 8 ® 1 

A darwesh without spirituality will not pause until his 

** I have translated the last three lines rather freely. The 
literal version is, "Without provisions, what plan wilt thou 
devise at the time of marching ? Turn the face of greediness 
from people, if thou art a man. Do not turn in thy hand the 
rosary with a thousand beads." In the second line putsch 

clearly means "a journey,” and rhymes to huh; but, in 
Richardson’s Dictionary, we find only paslj, with the 
meanings “ ready, prepared, provision for a journey.” 


poverty ends in infidelity, for ‘ Poverty borders on the 
denial of God.’ Moreover, without the possession of 
riches we cannot clothe the naked or exert ourselves in 
liberating the captive. Who can compare the position 
of such as we are with the dignity of the rich ? or what 
resemblance is there between the hand that gives and 
that which receives? Dost thou not perceive that the 
most glorious and most high God announces, in a clear 
passage of the Kur’an, 265 regarding the blessings of the 
inhabitants of Paradise, that, ‘ To them there is an assured 
allowance of fruits, and they are honoured in the gardens of 
Paradise ? ’ in order that thou mayest know that he who 
is occupied in gaining a subsistence is excluded from the 
happiness of this degree of holiness, and that the kingdom 
of contentment is dependant 286 on a fixed income. 


To those athirst the whole world seems 
A spring of water — in their dreams. 

Wherever thou seest one who has endured hardship 
and tasted the bitterness of misfortune, thou wilt find 
him precipitate himself with avidity into enormities 
without fear of the consequences or dread of punishment 
in a future life, inasmuch as he discriminates not between 
things lawful and unlawful. 


A dog leaps up with joy when on his head 
A clod descends — he thinks a bone to spy. 

So, when two men hear forth the coffined dead 
Upon their shoulders, greedy miscreants eye 
The bier, and think they then a tray of meat descry. 

as Ross refers for this passage to the 28th chapter of the 
Kur’an ; but the only verse that is at all similar in that chapter 
is v. 57, “ a secure asylum, to which fruits of every sort are 
brought, as a provision of our bounty.” 

”* Literally, “ under the signet.” 


7 97 

But the wealthy man is regarded with an eye of favour, 
and, by the possession of that which is lawful, is preserved 
from committing that which is unlawful. But, even 
supposing that I have not proved what I have adduced, 
nor demonstrated the truth of my arguments, I yet 
expect justice from thee. Hast thou ever seen the hand 
of a suppliant tied behind his back? or an indigent 
person imprisoned ? or the veil of chastity rent ? or the 
hand amputated at the wrist ? 267 except by reason of 
poverty ? Driven by necessity, brave men are taken in 
the act of undermining houses , 268 and are punished by 
having their heels bored ; and it is likely that, when the 
passions of the poor man are roused and he has not the 
means of gratifying them, he will be involved in sin. 
And it is one among the causes of the tranquillity and 
content that rich men enjoy, that they each day renew 
their youth, and each night embrace a beauty 269 such 
that bright mom is ashamed 270 in her presence, and the 
graceful cypress, in modest acknowledgment of her 
superiority, finds its feet imbedded in the clay of bash- 


Her hands in gore of hapless lovers dipped, ' 
Her fingers with the ruddy jujube tipped. 

It is impossible that, in despite of the beauty of such 
countenance, they should hover round that which is 
forbidden or engage in depravities. . 

The punishment for theft. 

Burglars in the East effect their entrance into the houses 
they intend to rob by mining under the walls. This is easy enough 
where, as in India, the soil is light and no one is on the alert. 

““ I cannot at all agree with M. Semelet’s reading of this 
passage, and infinitely prefer my own, by which the extreme 
indelicacy of the French and other editions is avoided. 
m Literally , “ Places its hand on its heart at her beauty.” 




A heart that Houris charmed and made its prey, 

To Yaghma’s * 71 beauties when will devious stray ? 

Who holds the dates he loves his hands between. 
Contented, pelts the clusters not, I ween. 

The majority of the necessitous stain the garment of 
chastity with sin, as those who are hungry steal bread. 

So when a ravenous cur finds meat — small care has he 
If Salih’s camel or if Dajjal’s * 13 ass it be. 

Many decent persons have fallen into abominable wicked- 
ness through poverty, and have given their precious 
honour to the winds of disgrace. 


With hunger abstinence will scarce remain, 

And want will wrest away devotion’s rein.” 

At the moment that I uttered these words the darwesh 
lost his hold of the reins of endurance, and he unsheathed 
the sword of his tongue and let loose the steed of eloquence 
in the plain of shamelessness, and attacked me furiously, 

511 YaghmA is Baid to be a city of Turkestan, famous 
for its beautiful women. It also signifies “prey,” whence 
arises an equivoque which cannot be preserved in English. 

272 Salih, “good, just;” the Patriarch Salih, son of 
Aiphaxad, who is said in the Kur’an (ch. vii.) to have been a 
prophet sent to the tribe jyw Samvd, who inhabited Arabia 
Petreea, and were descended from Aram, brother of Aiphaxad. 
To convince them of his mission he miraculously brought a 
camel out of a rock, but they continued still in their unbelief, 
on which they were slain by the Angel Gabriel. Dajjal is 
Anti-christ, who is to appear riding on an ass and to lead men 
astray, until killed by Mahdl, the twelfth Imam, at his coming. 



saying, “Thou hast employed such exaggeration in praising 
them, and talked so extravagantly on the subject, that one 
would imagine the rich to be the antidote to the poison of 
poverty, or the key of the stores of Providence. They 
are a handful of proud, arrogant, conceited, repulsive 
persons, who are taken up with their wealth and their 
luxuries, and led away by their rank and opulence, and 
who can only talk insipidly and look disdainfully. They 
treat the learned like mendicants, and reproach the poor 
with their distresses. Through the pride of their wealth 
and the assumption of their supposed dignity, they take 
their seats above all others and imagine themselves better 
than any. They never take it into their heads to notice 873 
any one, in ignorance of that saying which has been 
uttered by the wise, ‘Whoever is inferior to others in 
devotion, but surpasses them in wealth, is outwardly rich 
but inwardly poor.’ 


When a fool would exalt himself, for his wealth, above 
the wile, 

Though he be an ox of ambergris , 874 him as a fool despise.” 

I replied, “ Suffer not thyself to blame them, for they are 
the possessors of beneficence.” He rejoined, “ Thou hast 

m M. Semelet thinks Ai j\o j> j-> sar bar darand — the reading 
of Gladwin and Gentius — an error, and substitutes JojlJ ^ 
tar faru d&rand. But surely the former expression may mean 
“ they lift up the head,” “ they notice.” 

rii The Orientals think that ambergris is produced by sea- 
cows. M. Barbier tells us, “Ambergris is found in the sea on 
the coasts of India, Africa, and Brazil. It is gray striped with 
yellow, brownish, and white. It appears to be a concretion 
that, in some diseased states, is formed in whales and principally 
in their caecum. ” It is a medicinal substance, rarely used 
now-a-days by the physician, but in great request among per- 
fumers, as it increases and draws out the odour of their essences. 



spoken wrongly, for they are the slaves of money. Of what 
use is it that they are the clouds of the month Azar 275 
and do not rain on any one; or that they are the fountains 
of the sun, and yet shine on none ; and that they ride on 
the steed of power, if they will not let him go on. They 
will not move a step in God’s service, nor bestow a diram 
without making you feel painfully the obligation. They 
amass, too, their hoards drudgingly, and protect them 
grudgingly ; and the sages have said, * The silver of the 
miser is disinterred when he is interred.’ 


'With toil and trouble one does riches gain. 

Another comes and reaps them without pain.” 

I replied, “ Thou hast gained no knowledge of the parsi- 
mony of the rich save by begging ; otherwise every one 
who lays aside covetousness sees no difference in the 
liberal and the miserly. The touchstone discerns what is 
gold, and the beggar knows who is stingy.” ^ He said, “ I 
speak from experience that they place their menials at 
their gate, and commission coarse ruffians not to admit 
respectable persons, and these officials of theirs lay their 
hands on the breasts of men of knowledge and say, 
‘ There is nobody at home,’ and, in point of fact, they 
speak the truth . 276 


The soulless, stingy, dull, and senseless wight, 

Bids thee go say, ‘There’s no one in,’ — he’s right ! ” 

I replied, “ There is an excuse for their doing this, in 
that they are driven to extremity by the petitions of those 

278 According to Gladwin, “ August ; ” according to Bichard- 
son’s Dictionary, “ November.” 

2,8 This is said as a sneer, and means that the rich are 
“nobodys,” “persons of no worth or value.” 



who expect aid from them and are harassed by begging 
letters, and it cannot reasonably be supposed that, if the 
sand of the desert should become pearls, the eyes of 
beggars would be satisfied. 


No wealth could fill the eye of avarice, 

As dew to brim a well would ne'er suffice. 

Had Hatim Ta’I, who lived in the desert, dwelt in a city, 
he would have been driven to desperation by the impor- 
tunity of beggars, and the very clothes would have been 
tom off his back.” The darwesh said, “ I pity 277 their 
condition.” I replied, “ Not so ; thou enviest their 
wealth.” We were disputing thus and mutually opposed; 
when he advanced a pawn I endeavoured to repel it, and 
when he called out check to my king I covered it with 
the queen, until he had spent all the coin of his wit and 
discharged all the arrows of the quiver of argument. 


Beware, lest at that speaker’s onset, who 
Has but a borrowed and a vain tirade, 

Thou should’ st thy shield fling down. Keep thyself true 
To faith and virtue, and be not afraid 
Of empty posts with arms above the door displayed. 

At length he had not a word to say and was utterly 
overthrown by me. He then became outrageous and 
began to talk at random. It is the way with the ignorant 
that, when inferior to an opponent in argument, they 
betake themselves 278 to violence. As, when the idol- 
worshipper Azur could not succeed with his son 279 in 
argument, he rose up to attack him, for God most High 

2.7 A sneer. 

2.8 Literally, “ They shake the chain of enmity.” 
v> Abraham. 


has said, “ Of a truth if thou unit not yield this point, then 
I will stone thee." He began to abuse me and I answered 
him in the same strain. He seized my collar and I his 


O’er him I tumbled, he o’er me, 

A crowd with laughter us pursued, 

And wondered at our colloquy 

"With fingers in their mouths fast glued.* 80 

In short we carried our dispute before the Kazi, and 
agreed to abide by his just decision, so that the judge of 
the Musalman might examine as to what was best, and 
pronounce on the points of difference between the rich 
and the poor. 

When the Kazi beheld our faces and heard our address, 
he allowed his head to sink down into his vest in medita- 
tion, and, after much reflection, raised it and said, “ 0 
thou ! who hast extolled the rich and thought fit to 
speak with severity of the poor, know that wherever there 
is a rose there is a thorn, and with wine is intoxication, 
and over a treasure is coiled a serpent, and where there 
are royal pearls there are also devouring monsters. So 
over the enjoyments of the world impends the terror of 
death, and between the blessings of Paradise intervenes 
a wall of difficulties. 281 


Who would have friends, a foe’s hate must sustain, 
Linked are snakeB, gold ; thorns, flowers ; joy and pain. 

Seest thou not that in the garden are found together 
musk-willowB and dry logs? so, too, among the rich 
are those who are thankful and unthankful, and among 
the poor are the patient and impatient. 

280 The Oriental way of denoting surprise is to bite the finger. 

281 Vide Kur’an, ch. vii., v. 47, ed. Maracci. 




Could every hailstone to a pearl be turned, 

Pearls in the mart like oyster shells were spumed. 

The beloved of the Almighty (may He be honoured and 
glorified ! ) are the rich who have the humility of the 
poor, and the poor who have the magnanimity of the 
rich; and the prince of rich men is he who compas- 
sionates the poor, and among the poor men he is the 
best who depreciates the rich least. God most Sigh has 
said, ‘ Whosoever trusteth in God , He is sufficient for him.’” 
The KazI then turned the face of rebuke from me towards 
the darwesh, and said, “ 0 thou ! who hast said that the 
rich are absorbed in forbidden enjoyments and intoxicated 
with profane delights ; it is true that there are a number 
of persons such as thou hast said, deficient in liberality 
and unthankful for their blessings, who gather money 
and hoard it, and who enjoy it but give none away. If, 
for example, the rain should not fall, or a deluge over- 
whelm the world, in the security of their own abundance 
they would not ask after the poor man nor fear the Most 
High God. 


What though another die of want P my bread 
Fails not : to water-fowls floods cause no dread. 


Borne aloft in camel-litters, tchat, I pray, do women care 
For the tired pilgrim struggling through the sand-heaps 
drifted there ? 


The base who’ve saved their own vile wrappers cry, 

‘ What matters though the universe should die P ’ 

There are persons of the character I have described ; 
but there is another numerous body who prepare a 



hospitable table and proclaim a liberal invitation, and 
whose countenances expand with affability while they in 
this manner pursue the path of fame and divine acceptance, 
and thus enjoy both this present world and a future 
recompense. Of these is his Majesty the King of the 
world, the aided by God, the victorious and triumphant over 
his enemies, the holder of the reins of the human race, 
defender of the passes of Islam, heir to the throne of Sulaiman, 
the most just of the monarchs of the age, Muzaffaru’ d-din 
Abu Bakr bin Sad bin Zangi ( may God prolong his days 
and grant victory to his banners ! ) 


No sire e’er showed such kindness to his child 
As thy all-bounteous hand hath heaped on man. 

Heaven on this world with favouring mercy smiled. 
And by its Providence thy reign began.” 

When the Kazi had extended his discourse thus far, and 
had urged the steed of his rhetoric beyond the limits of 
our expectation, we acquiesced in the necessity of obeying 
his decree, overlooked what had passed, and, banishing 
our past differences, entered on the road of reconciliation ; 
and, in amends for what we had mutually done, bowed 
our heads at each other’s feet and kissed each other’s head 
and faces. The discord ceased and our enmity terminated 
in peace, and our disagreement concluded with these two 
couplets : 


Complain not, darwesh ! of vicissitude : 

Hapless if in such train of thought thou die ! 

And thou, rich man ! while yet thou art endued 
With a kind heart and riches, gratify 
Thyself and others : thus on earth make sure 
Of joys ; and thy reward in heaven secure. 




Maxim I. 

Riches are for the sake of making life comfortable, not 
life for the sake of amassing riches. I asked a wise man, 
“ Who is fortunate and who unfortunate ? ” He replied, 
“ The fortunate is he who sowed 282 and reaped ; the un- 
fortunate he who died and abandoned.” 


Not for that worthless one a prayer afford. 

Who life in hoarding spent — ne’er spent his hoard. 

Maxim II. 

The holy Musa (Peace be on him ! ) advised Karun , 283 
saying, “ Do good unto others, as God has done good unto 
thee / ” He did not listen, and thou hast heard his end. 

He who by wealth no good deeds has upstored, 

For it has marred his future destiny. 

Wouldst thou derive advantage from thy hoard ? 

Do good to others, as God has to thee. 

18S I have transposed kh'urd tea kisht, as it is 

evident that “ kisht’’ is put last only to rhyme with c:.-vw,N 

m Kur’an, chap, xxviii., page 296, 1. 6. Sale’s Translation. 



The Arabs say, “Do good, and do not speak of it, and 
assuredly thy kindness will he recompensed to thee ; ” that is 
to say, “Give and be liberal, and do not impute tbe 
obligation, and tbe benefit will revert to thee.” 


Where’er tbe tree of gracious deeds takes root. 

Its towering top and branches reach the sky : 

Do not, if thou wouldst wish to taste its fruit, 

By boasting of those deeds, the axe apply. 


Thank God that He vouchsafes to succour thee, 

And has not left thee void of grace. 

Thou serv’st the king — well ! do not boastful be, 

But rather thankful for thy place. 

Maxim III. 

Two men have laboured fruitlessly and exerted them- 
selves to no purpose. One is the man who has gained 
wealth without enjoying it ; the other he who has ac- 
quired knowledge but has failed to practise it. 


How much soe’er thou leam’st, 'tis all vain ; 

Who practise not, still ignorant remain. 

A quadruped, with volumes laden, is 
Ho whit the wiser or more sage for this : 

How can the witless animal discern, 

If books be piled on it P or wood to bum P 

Maxim IY. 

Science is for the cultivation of religion, not for worldly 


Who makes a gain of virtue, science, lore, 

Is one who garners up, then bums his store. 



Maxim V. 

A learned man who does not restrain his passions is 
like a blind man holding a torch ; he guides others hut not 


Who life has wasted without doing aught, 

His gold has squandered, and has purchased nought. 

Maxim VI. 

A country is adorned by wise men, and religion is 
perfected by the virtuous. Kings stand more in need of 
the counsel of the wise, than wise men do of propinquity 
to kings. 


King ! let my words with thee find grace ; 

My book than this can nought more sage advise : 
The wise alone in office place ; 

Though office truly little suits the wise. 

Maxim VII. 

Three things lack permanency, uncombined with three 
other things : wealth without trading ; learning without 
instruction ; 281 and empire without a strict administration 
of justice. 


By courteous speech, politeness, gentleness, 
Sometimes thou mayest direct the human will : 
Anon by threats ; for it oft profits less 
With sugar twice a hundred cups to fill, 

Than from one colocynth its bitters to distil. 

284 The other translators take “ controversy” to be the mean- 
ing of dirasat ; I confess I am at a loss for authority to 

justify this sense. But the meaning I have given above is 
simple enough : — If the learned do not teach others, learning 
must soon come 'to an end. 



Maxim VIII. 

To shew pity to the bad is to oppress the good, and to 
pardon oppressors is to tyrannise over the oppressed. 


When thou to base men giv’st encouragement, 

Thou shar’st their sins, since thou them aid hast lent. 

Maxim IX. ' 

No reliance can be placed on the friendship of princes, 
nor must we plume ourselves on the sweet voices of 
children, since that is changed by a caprice, and these by 
a single slumber. 


On the mistress of a thousand hearts, do not thy love 
bestow ; 

But if thou wilt, prepare eftsoons her friendship to forego. 
Maxim X. 

Reveal not to a friend every secret that thou possessest. 
How knowest thou whether at some time he may not 
become an enemy? Nor inflict on thy enemy every 
injury that is in thy power, perchance he may some day 
become thy friend. Tell not the secret that thou wouldest 
have continue hidden to any person, although he may be 
worthy of confidence ; for no one will be so careful of thy 
secret as thyself. 


Better be silent, than thy purpose tell 
To others ; and enjoin them secresy. 

0 dolt ! keep back the water at the well, 

For the swoll’n stream to stop thou’lt vainly try. 

In private, utter not a single word 

Which thou in public wouldst regret were heard. 

Maxim XI. 

A weak enemy who submits and makes a shew of 
friendship, does so only with the intention of becoming 



more dangerous ; and they have said, “ There is no 
reliance to be placed in the friendship of friends ; how 
much less in the professions of enemies ! ” Whosoever 
despises a small enemy is like him who is careless about 
a little fire. 


To-day extinguish, if thou can’st, the fire, 

Which for its victims will a world require, 

If not arrested. And ere yet his bow 
Be strung, thy arrow should transfix the foe. 

Maxim XII. 

Let thy words between two foes be such that if they 
were to become friends thou wouldest not be ashamed. 


Like fire is strife betwixt two enemies : 

The luckless mischief-maker wood supplies. 

Struck with confusion and ashamed is he, 

If e’er the two belligerents agree. 

Can we in this aught rational discern — - 
To light a fire which will ourselves first burn? 


In talk with friends speak soft and low, 

Lest thy bloodthirsty foeman thee should hear : 

A wall may front thee — true ! hut dost thou know 
If there be not behind a listening ear ? 

Maxim XIII. 

Whoever comes to an agreement with the enemies of 
his friends, does so with the intention of injuring the 


Eschew that friend, if thou art wise, 

Who consorts with thy enemies. 




Maxim XIY. 

When, in transacting business, thou art in doubt, make 
choice of that side from which the least injury will result. 


Reply not roughly to smooth language, nor 

Contend with him who knocks at peace’s door. 

Maxim XV. 

As long as a matter can he compassed by money, it is 
not right to imperil life. The Arabs say, “ The sword is 
the last resource.” 


When thou hast failed in every known resource, 

Then to the sword ’tis right to have recourse. 

Maxim XVI. 

Compassionate not the weakness of a foe, for were he 
to become powerful he would have no pity on thee . 285 


Twist not thy moustaches boastful, nor with pride thy 
weak foe scan : 

Every hone contains some marrow, every garment cloaks 
a man. 


He who slays a had man, rids mankind of annoyance 
from him, and the man himself from an increase of 
punishment [which his future misdeeds would have 
merited] from God (may He be honoured and glorified I ). 286 

These maxims are a very good index of Oriental feeling ; 
and all who know the East will admit that they are most 
religiously observed. 

An unlucky maxim for a criminal. So, in taking off hiB 
head, you are in fact consulting not only the public weal, but 
the welfare of the criminal himself. 


21 r 


Pity is commendable — that we own ; 

Yet on the tyrant’s wound no ointment place. 

He that has mercy to a serpent shown, 

Has acted cruelly to Adam’s race. 

Maxim XYII. 

To act in accordance with an enemy’s advice is foolish, 
but it is permissible to hear it, in order to do the opposite, 
for that will be exactly the right course. 


Beware of what thy foeman bids thee do, 

Lest on thy knees thou smite thy hands, and grieve. 
Straight as a dart may be the road — ’tis true — 

He points to ; yet ’twere better it to leave. 

Maxim XVIII. 

Anger that has no limit causes terror, and unseasonable 
kindness does away with respect. Be not so severe as to 
cause disgust, nor so lenient as to make people presume. 

Sternness and gentleness are best combined : 

The leech both salves and scarifies, you find. 

The sage is not too rigorous, nor yet 
Too mild, lest men their awe of him forget : 

He seeks not for himself too high a place ; 

Xor will himself too suddenly abase. 


Once to his sire a shepherd said, “ 0 Sage ! 

Teach me one maxim worthy of thy age.” 

“ Use gentleness,” he said, “ yet not so much, 

That the wolf be emboldened thee to clutch.” 

Maxim XIX. 

Two persons are the foes of a state and of religion; a king 
without clemency, and a religious man without learning. 




Ne’er to that king may states allegiance own, 

Who bows not humbly at th’ Almighty’s throne. 

Maxim XX. 

A king ought not to indulge his resentment against 
his enemies to such an extent as to shake the confidence 
of his friends; for the fire of wrath falls first on the 
wrathful man himself, and after, its flame may or may 
not reach the enemy. 


It suits not Adam’s children, earthly-bom, 

T’ indulge in pride, ferocity, and scorn. 

When I behold in thee such heat and ire, 

I cannot think thee sprung from earth, but fire. 


In Bailkan 187 once a devotee I saw, 

“ From folly purge me by thy words,” I said. 

“ Go ! ” he replied, “ thou who art skilled in law, 

Be as earth humble, or what thou hast read 
Might in the earth as well be buried.” 

Maxim 888 XXI. 

The wicked man is overtaken in the grasp of an enemy 
from whose torturing clutches he can never escape, go 
where he will. 


Though bad men seek in heaven to flee from ill. 

E’en there their vices will pursue them still. 

287 A city in Armenia Major, near the ports of the Caspian Sea. 

288 This is headed mufuyabah, “pleasantry,” as the 

next is jcj pand, “advice,” as others are ijiebt muldfafah, 

“ facetiee,” and J tamblh, “admonition;” but, as it is 
difficult to see how these differ from hikmat, and from 

one another, I have rendered them all “ Maxim.” 


2 t 3 

Maxim XXII. 

When thou seest discord arise among the forces of the 
enemy, take courage ; and when they are united 289 beware 
then of rout. 


Go ! with thy friends sit free from care, 

If thou thy foes shouldst see with discord rent. 

But if thou mark’st agreement there, 

Go string thy bow, thyself prepare, 

And pile thy missiles on the battlement. 

Maxim XXIII. 

When an enemy has tried every expedient in vain, he 
will pretend friendship ,* 90 and then, by this pretext, 
execute designs which no enemy could have effected. 

Maxim XXIV. 

Crush the serpent’s head with the hand of an enemy, 
which must result in one of two good things. If the 
latter be successful, thou hast killed a snake ; and if the 
former, thou hast freed thyself from an enemy. 


Though thy foe be feeble, be not in the battle void of 
care ; 

He will dash the lion’s brains out when he’s driven to 

Maxim XXV. 

When thou knowest tidings that will pain the heart of 
any one, be silent, so that another may be the first to 
convey them. 

““ There is a play on words here, which I have not been able 
to preserve in English. ^ Ai jama ehudan signifies “to 

be collected, united,” and also, “to be of good cheer.” 

™ Literally, “ Agitate the chain of friendship.” 




0 nightingale ! spring’s tidings breathe, 

111 rumours to the owls bequeath. 

Maxim XXVI. 

i Do not acquaint a king with the treason of any one, 
unless when thou art assured that the disclosure will meet 
with his full approval, else thou art but labouring for thy 
own destruction. 


Then, only then, to speak intend 
When speaking can effect thy end. 

Maxim XXVII. 

He who gives advice to a conceited man is himself in 
need of counsel. 

Maxim XXVIII. 

Be not caught by the artifice of a foe, nor purchase 
pride of a flatterer ; for the one has set the snare of 
hypocrisy, and the other has opened the mouth of 
greediness. The fool is puffed up with flattery, like a 
corpse whose inflated heels appear plump. 


Heed not the flatterer’s fulsome talk, 

He from thee hopes some trifle to obtain ; 

Thou wilt, shouldst thou his wishes baulk, 

Two hundred times as much of censure gain. 

Maxim XXIX. 

Until some one points out to an orator his defects, his 
discourse will never be amended, 


To vaunt of one’s own speaking is not meet, 

At fools’ approval and one’s own conceit. 



Maxim XXX. 

Every one thinks his own judgment perfect, and his 
own son beautiful. 


A Jew and Musalman once so contended 

That laughter seized me as their contest grew. 

The true believer thus his cause defended : 

“ Is this bond false, then may I die a Jew ! ” 

The Jew replied: “By Moses* books I vow that 
’Tis true, or else a Musalman am I ! ” 

So from earth’s face were Wisdom’s self to fly, 

Not one could be amongst us found t’ allow that 
He j'udgment lacked, or himself stultify. . 

Maxim XXXI. 

Ten men can eat at one board, but two dogs cannot 
satisfy themselves at one carcase. The greedy man con- 
tinues to hunger, though a world supply his wants ; and 
the contented man is satisfied with a crust. 


A single loaf the stomach will supply ; 

But not earth’s richest gifts the greedy eye. 

When my sire’s age had reached its latest day, 

He gave me this advice, and passed away : — 

“ Lust is a fire ; — from it thyself keep well ; 

Nor kindle ’gainst thyself the flames of Hell. 

Thou hast not patience to endure that flame, I trow; 
With patience, as with water, quench it now.” 

Maxim XXXII. 

Whosoever does no good when he has the ability to do 
it, in the time of inability to aid others will himself suffer 

2 1 6 



Ill-starred, indeed, is he who injures men : 

Is fortune adverse, he is friendless then. 

Maxim XXXIII. 

Life hangs on a single breath ; and the world of exist- 
ence is between two non-existences. Those who barter 
religion for the world are asses ; they sell Joseph and get 
what in return? Bid 1 not covenant icith you, 0 sons of 
Adam ! that ye should not serve Satan ? for verily he is 
your avowed enemy. 


"With thy friend thou faith hast broken at the bidding 
of thy foe : 

See with whom thou’st joined alliance, and from whom 
thou’st sought to go. 

Maxim XXXIV. 

Satan prevails not against the righteous; nor a king 
against the poor. 


Lend not to him who prayer neglects, though he 
Gasping with want and inanition be ; 

For he who renders not to God His due, 

What will he care for that he owes to you ? 


I’ve heard that they so temper Eastern clay 391 
That they in forty years one cup prepare : 
Hundreds are made in Baghdad in a day, 

And hence the lowness of the price they bear. 

” l The other translators render j: fL* Jehak-i mashrik, 

“ in the land of the East,” “ dans le pays d’Orient,” etc. ; hut 
surely the translation I have given is at least as defensible. 




The young bird from its egg comes forth and meets at 
once its fate, 

While infant man is destitute of reason and of sense : 
Too soon matured the first arrives at nothing high or great; 

The second with slow steps attains a proud pre-eminence. 
Crystal is everywhere beheld, and hence contemned its 
state ; 

But since the ruby’s rarely found, its worth’s the 

Maxim XXXV. 

Affairs succeed by patience ; and he that is hasty 
falleth headlong. 


I’ve in the desert with these eyes beheld 

The hurrying pilgrim to the slow- stepped yield : 

The rapid courser in the rear remains. 

While the slow camel still its step maintains. 

Maxim XXXVI. 

There is no better ornament for the ignorant than 
silence, and did he but know this he would not be 


Hast thou not perfect excellence, ’tis best 
To keep thy tongue in silence, for ’tis this 
Which shames a man ; as lightness does attest 
The nut is empty, nor of value is. 


Once, in these words, a fool rebuked an ass, — 

“ Go, thou who all thy life hast lived in vain ! ” 

A sage said to him, “ Blockhead ! why dost pass 
Thy time in this P Gibes will be all thy gain. 

To learn of thee a brute no power has : 

Learn thou of brutes in silence to remain.” 

2 I 8 



Whoe’er his answer does not ponder, will, 

In most a flairs, be found to answer ill ; 

Thy speech embellish with man’s sense and wit, 

Or learn in silence like a brute to sit. 

Maxim XXXVII. 

Whoever disputes with a man more wise than him- 
self, to make people think him wise, will be thought 


When one more wise than thou begins to speak. 

Do not, tho’ skilful, to oppose him seek. 


Whoso sits with bad men will not see aught good. 


With demons did an angel take his seat, 

He’d learn but terror, treason, and deceit : 

Thou from the bad wilt nothing learn but ill ; 

The wolf will ne’er the furrier’s office fill. 

Maxim XXXIX. 

Divulge not the secret faults of men ; for at the same 
time that thou disgracest them thou wilt destroy thy own 

Maxim XL. 

He that has acquired learning and not practised what 
he has leamt, is like a man who ploughs but sows 
no seed. 

Maxim XLI. 

Worship cannot be performed by the body without 
the mind, and a shell without a kernel will not do for 



Maxim XLII. 

Not every one who is ready at wrangling is correct in 
his dealings. 


Forms enow beneath the mantle wear the outward signs 
of grace ; 

But if thou shouldst them un wimple, thou wouldst find 
a grandam’s face. 

Maxim XLIII. 

If every night was a night of power, 292 the Night of 
Power would lose its value. 


Were each stone such ruby as is found in Badakhshanyan 

How would then the ruby differ from the pebble in its 
worth ? 

Maxim XLIV. 

Not every one whose outward form is graceful pos- 
sesses the graces of the mind ; for action depends on the 
heart, not on the exterior. 

' m Gladwin seems to me to destroy the pith of this sentence 
hy rendering jSi shab-i kadr, “many of such nights; ” to 

say nothing of making a singular noun plural. Chapter xcvii. 
of the Kur’an is as follows : “ Verily, we sent down the Kur’an 
in the night of A1 Kadr. And what shall make thee under- 
stand how excellent the night of A1 Kadr is ? The night of A1 
Kadr is better than a thousand months. Therein do the angels 
descend, and the spirit Gabriel also, by the permission of their 
Lord, with his decrees concerning every matter. It is peace 
until the rising of the morn.” The Moslem doctors are not 
agreed when to fix this night ; but most think it one of the last 
nights of Ramazan, and the seventh reckoned backwards, 
whence it will fall between the 23rd and 24th days of that 




From a man’s qualities a day’s enough 
To make us of his learning’s limit sure. 

Plume not thyself as though the hidden stuff 
Thou of his heart hast reached ; nor be secure, 
For not e’en long revolving years can tell 
The foul things which in man unnoticed dwell. 

Maxim XLY. 

He who joins battle with the great sheds his own 


Say’st thou, “Behold ! how great lam!” 

The squint-eyed even thus of one makes two ; 
Who play at butting with a ram 

Will quick enough a broken forehead rue. 

Maxim XLVI. 

It is not the part of wise men to grapple with a lion, 
or strike the fist against a sword. 


Not in contention with the furious stand, 

And near the mighty humbly clasp thy hand . 295 

Maxim XLVII. 

A weak man, who has the fool-hardiness to contend 
with a strong one, assists his adversary in destroying 


He who was nursed in soft repose 

Cannot with warriors to the battle go ; 

Yain with his weakly arm to close, 

And struggle with an iron-wristed foe. 

295 Literally, “Put thy hand under thy armpit;” i.e. “Put 
thyself in a peaceful attitude.” 



Maxim XLYIII. 

Whoso will not listen to advice aims at hearing himself 


He who will not to friends’ advice attend, 
Must not complain when they him reprehend. 

Maxim XLIX. 

Persons devoid of virtue cannot endure the sight of 
the virtuous; just as market-curs, when they see dogs of 
the chase, bark at them, but dare not approach them. 

Maxim L. 

When a base fellow cannot vie with another in merit, 
he will attack him with malicious slander. 


Weak envy absent virtue slanders, — Why ? 

Since it is dumb, perforce, when it is by. 

Maxim LI. 

But for the tyranny of hunger no bird would fall into 
the snare — nay, the fowler himself would not set the snare. 


The belly binds the hands, the feet unnerves ; 

He heeds not heaven who his belly serves. 

Maxim LII. 

Wise men eat late ; devout men but half satisfy their 
appetites ; and hermits take only enough to support life ; 
the young eat till the dishes are removed, and the old till 
they sweat ; but the Kalandars 291 stuff till they have no 
room in their stomachs to breathe, and not a morsel is 
left on the table for any one. 

A sort of fakir. 




The glutton for two nights no sleep can get ; 

The first from surfeit, the next from regret . 285 

Maxim LIII. 

To consult with women is ruin, and to be liberal to the 
mischievous is a crime. 


To sharp-toothed tigers kind to be 
To harmless flocks is tyranny . 298 

Maxim LIY. 

Whoso slays not his enemy when he is in his power is 
his own enemy. 


When a stone is in the hand ; on a stone the serpent’s 
pate ; 

He is not a man of sense who to strike should hesitate. 

There are, however, persons who think the opposite of 
this advisable, and have said, “ It is better to pause in the 
execution of prisoners, inasmuch as the option [of slaying 
or pardoning them] is retained. Whereas, if a prisoner 

285 Literally, “One who is a captive in the bonds of the belly.” 
Gladwin translates the dil tangl, in the second line, 

“ want.” M. Semelet, more literally, “ inquietude de coeur.” 
I suppose it to be “ regret,” for having eaten the supplies for 
the next day. Dr. Sprenger reads iSjl* mtdah-i khah . 

for mtdah-i sanyi, which I cannot approve. 

”* As the couplet in my edition occurs, and has been already 
translated under Maxim VIII., I prefer rendering Dr. Sprenger’ s 
and M. Semelet’s reading, which is as follows : — 

ylAjJ JjJ j> | 

ti \ -ifi n . i ^^ ji Oj) i 

and which occurs in my edition after the next couplet. 



be put to death without deliberation, it is probable that 
the best course will be let slip, since the step is 


’Tis very easy one alive to slay ; 

Not so to give back life thou tak’st away : 

Reason demands that archers patience show, 

For shafts once shot return not to the bow. 

Maxim LV. 

The sage who engages in controversy with ignorant 
people must not expect to be treated with honour ; and if 
a fool should overpower a philosopher by his loquacity, 
it is not to be wondered at, for a common stone will 
break a jewel. 


What marvel is it if his spirits droop ? 

A nightingale — and with him crows to coop ! 


What if a vagabond on merit rail ? 

Let not the spirits of the worthy fail : 

A common stone may break a golden cup ; 

Its value goes not down, the stone’s not up. 

Maxim LVI. 

If in a company of dissolute fellows the discourse of a 
wise man is not received with attention, be not astonished ; 
for the sound of the lute is drowned by that of the drum, 
and the perfume of ambergris is overpowered by the 
fcetor of garlic. 


Proud has the loud-voiced wittol grown, 

That impudence the wise has overthrown ; 

Know’st thou not Hijaz’ strains too low-toned are 
To mingle with the brazen drum of war. 

If a jewel fall into the mire it remains as precious as 



before : and though dust should ascend to heaven, its 
former worthlessness will not be altered, A capacity 
without education is pitiable, and education without 
capacity is thrown away. Ashes, though akin to what 
is exalted, inasmuch as fire is essentially noble, yet, not 
possessing any intrinsic worth, are no better than dirt ; 
and the value of sugar is not derived from the cane, but 
from its own inherent qualities. Musk is that which of 
itself yields a sweet smell, not that which the perfumer 
says is musk . 297 The wise man is like the tray of the 
druggist — silent, but evincing its own merits ; and the 
ignorant man resembles the drum of the warrior — loud- 
voiced, and empty, and bragging vainly. 


A learned man, as sages state. 

Among the dull illiterate, 

Is like a beauty ’mid the blind, 

Or Kur’an to the impious mind. 

In Canaan’s land, when sin prevailed, 

The Prophet’s birth no fruit entailed. 

If innate worth is in thee bom, 

[Thy origin deserves not scorn,] 

The rose aye blossoms on the thorn ; 

[The worthless may engender worth,] 

And Azur gave to Abraham birth. 

Maxim LYII. 

It is not right to estrange in a moment a friend whom 
it takes a lifetime to secure. 


’Tis years before the pebble can put on 
The ruby’s nature. — Wilt thou on a stone 
In one short moment mar what time has done ? 

SI ” He may call that which is adulterated or counterfeit 
“ musk.” 



Maxim LYIII. 

Reason is a captive in the hands of the passions, as a 
weak man in the hands of an artful woman. 


Shut on that house the door of sweet content, 
Where woman can aloud her passions vent. 

Maxim LIX. 

Purpose without power is mere weakness and decep- 
tion ; and power without purpose is fatuity and insanity. 


Have judgment, counsel, sense, and then bear rule ; 

Wealth, empire, are self-murder*® to the fooL 

Maxim LX. 

The liberal man, who enjoys and bestows, is better than 
the devotee, who fasts and lays by. Whoso abandons 
lust in order to gain acceptance with the world has fallen 
from venial desires into those which are unpardonable. 


Hermits, who are not so through piety, 

Darken a glass and then attempt to see. 


Little to little added much will grow: 

The barn’s store, grain by grain, is gathered so. 

Many Littles make a mickle, many drops a flood. 

Maxim LXI. 

It is not right for a learned man to pass over leniently 

298 I prefer Gladwin’s and Gentius’ renderings of this passage 
to those of Semelet and Ross. Literally, the sense of the 
second line is, “For the territories and wealth of the ignorant 
are the weapons of warfare against himself.” 




the foolish impertinencies of the vulgar, for this is 
detrimental to both parties : the awe which the former 
ought to inspire is diminished, and the folly of the latter 


Art thou with fools too courteous and too free, 

Their pride and folly will augmented be. 

Maxim LXII. 

Wickedness, by whomsoever committed, is odious : but 
most of all in men of learning ; for learning is the weapon 
with which Satan is combated ; and when a man is made 
captive with arms in his hand, his shame is more excessive. 


Better an ignorant and wretched state 

Than to be learned and yet profligate ; 

That from the path his blindness did beguile ; 

This saw, and in a pitfall slipped the while. 

Maxim LXIII. 

People forget the name of him whose bread they have 
not tasted during his lifetime. Joseph the just (Peace 
be on him!), during the famine in Egypt, would not eat 
so as to satisfy his appetite, that he might not forget the 
hungry. It is the poor widow that relishes the grapes, 
not the owner of the vineyard . 299 


He who in pleasure and abundance lives, 

What knows he of the pang that hunger gives ? 

He can affliction best appreciate, 

Who has himself experienced the same state. 

*" That is, We estimate blessings when we are deprived of 
them, and value highly what is beyond our reach. 




0 thou ! who rid’st a mettled courser, see 

How toils, ’mid mire, the poor thorn-loaded ass ! 

From poor men’s houses, let no fire for thee 

Be brought. The wreaths which from their chimney 

Are sighs wrung from their hearts by destiny. 300 

Maxim LXIV. 

Inquire not of the distressed darwesh in his destitution 
and time of want, “How art thou?” save on the condition 
that thou puttest ointment on his wound and settest money 
before him. 


The ass has fallen with its burthen — well ! 

Thou mark’st it — then be pitiful, nor tread 
It down ; but if thou askest how it fell, 

[Let not thy help to this be limited], 

But bravely strive to drag it forth instead. 301 

.Maxim LXY. 

Two things are impossible : to obtain more food than 
what Providence destines for us ; and to die before the 
time known to God. 


Fate is not altered by a thousand sighs ; 

Complain or render thanks — arrive it will : 

The angel at whose bidding winds arise 
Cares little for the widow’s lamp, if still 
It bums, or by the storm extinguished dies. 

That is, do not wring from the poor the smallest trifle. 
The comparison between smoke and a sigh has occurred twice 
before. It is a simile in which Orientals delight, inept as it 
appears to us. 

301 Literally, “ Gird up thy loins and, like brave men, lay 
hold of the ass’s tail.” 



Maxim LXYI. 

0 thou ! who seekest subsistence, sit down, that thou 
mayest be fed ; and thou who desirest to die ! go not [in 
pursuit of death]; for thou canst not preserve thy life 
[beyond the destined term]. 


Wouldst thou by toil or not thy wants supply, 

The Glorious and High God will give thee food. 

Nor, mortal ! canst thou unpredestined die, 

Didst thou in maw of ravenous tigers lie, 

Or savage lions thirsting for thy blood. 

Maxim LXYII. 

It is impossible to lay hands on that which is not 
predestined for us, and that which is predestined will 
reach us wherever we are. 


Hast thou not heard with what excess of pain 
Sikandar sought the shades ? nor yet could gain 
Life’s water, which he strove thus to attain. 

-Maxim LXYIII. 

A fisherman cannot catch fish in the Tigris without the 
aid of destiny ; nor can a fish perish on dry land unless 
fated to do so. 


Poor greedy wretch ! where'er he drags himself, 
Death him pursues, while he’s pursuing pelf. 

Maxim LXIX. 

A wicked rich man is a gilded clod, and a pious darwesh 
is a beauty soiled with earth. The latter is the tattered 
garment of Moses patched together, and the former is the 



ulcer of Pharaoh 302 covered with jewels. The sufferings 
of the good have a joyful aspect, while the prosperity of 
the wicked looks downward. 


Tell those to whom rank, wealth are given, 

Who care not for the sons of pain ; 

That in the bright abodes of Heaven 
They neither wealth nor rank will gain. 

Maxim LXX. 

The envious man begrudgeth God’s blessings, and is 
the foe of the innocent. 


A wretched crack-brained fellow once I saw, 

Who slandered one of lofty dignity ; 

I said, “ Good sir ! I grant thee that a flaw 
May in thy fortunes be observed, — but why 
Impute it to the man who lives more happily ? 


Oh I on the envious man invoke no curse, 

For of himself, poor wretch ! accursed is he ; 

On him no hatred can inflict aught worse 
Than his self-fed, self-torturing enmity. 

Maxim LXXI. 

A student without the inclination to learn is a lover 
without money; and a pilgrim without spirituality is a 

301 Boss translates rUh, in this passage, “ embroidered 
mantle,” a strange freedom. M. Semelet renders it “la barbe,” 
which is downright nonsense. Gladwin seems to me to have 
expressed the right meaning. One of the seven plagues was a 
boil and blain breaking out on the Egyptians. 



bird without wings ; and a devotee without learning 80 * 
is a house without a door. 

Maxim LXXIL 

The intent of revealing the Kur’an was, to give men 
the means of learning good morality, not that they should 
employ themselves in the mere recitation of the text. 
The man who is devout but illiterate, is one who performs 
his journey though it be on foot ; while the man who is 
learned but negligent, is a sleeping rider. A sinner who 
lifts up his hand [in prayer] is better than a devotee who 
lifts up his head [in pride]. 


Better the kind and courteous man of arms 
Than lawyer who his fellow-creatures harms. 

Maxim LXXIII. 

A learned man without practice is a bee without honey. 


Go, tell the hornet — fierce, ungentle thing, 

We want no honey : but at least don’t sting ! 

Maxim LXXIY. 

A man without courage is a woman , 304 and a devotee 
with covetous desires is a robber. 

308 pic llm, here, is “learning” rather than “knowledge,” as 
Gladwin renders it. The devotee may have knowledge of 
spiritual things ; but, not having learning, he may be unable to 
teach others, and thus resemble a house well furnished and 
spacious, but inaccessible. 

304 There is an equivoque in the Persian which cannot be 
preserved in English, tan is “ a woman,” Sj rah-tan “ a 
robber.” Gladwin translates a muruwat, in my opinion, 


23 1 


Thou ! who t’ appease the crowd and win repute 
Hast made the robe of outward actions white ; 

Know, to resign the world doth better suit 
The pious, and to be regardless quite 
Whether the sleeve be long or short to sight. 

Maxim LXXY. 

Two sorts of persons cannot cease to feel regret at 
heart, nor can they extricate the foot of remorse from 
the mire : one is the merchant, whose vessel has been 
wrecked ; and the other, the heir who has become the 
associate # of Kalandars. In accordance with this they 
have said : “ Though the robe bestowed by the Sultan is 
precious, people’s own clothes are more regarded; and 
though the tray of dishes at the table of the great is full 
of delicacies, yet the scraps of one’s own wallet are better 


Than the mayor’s kid and loaf more dainty far 
Are our poor herbs — self-earned — and vinegar. 

Maxim LXXYI. 

It is contrary to right reason, and a violation of the 
precepts of the wise, to take medicine about which we are 
in doubt ; and to travel by a road we do not know, save 
in the company of a caravan. 

Maxim LXXYII. 

They asked the Imam and spiritual guide — Muhammad 
bin Muhammad Ghizali — (may the mercy of God be upon 
him ! ) by what means he had attained such a degree of 
learning. He replied, “ In this way : I was not ashamed 
to ask whatever I did not know.” 




Hope thou with reason for good health, when thou 
Dost to the skilful leech thy pulse present ; 

Ask what thou know’st not — with the stigma, now, 

(If shame there be) of asking be content ; 

And thus in learning grow pre-eminent. 


Whenever thou art certain of being informed of a 
thing, be not precipitate in inquiry ; for this will lessen 
thy credit and respectability. 


When Lukman marked how wax-like iron grew, 
Moulded in David’s hands ; though wondrous, he 

Forbore to ask his secret ; for he knew 
He of himself would learn the mystery. 

Maxim LXXIX. 

It is one of the essentials of society that thou either play 
the part of host thyself, or act so as to conciliate the host . 305 


Let thy story aye befit 

The hearer’s taste, wouldst thou that he approve ; 306 

They who would with Majnun sit, 

Must still of Laila talk — still talk of love. 

805 Gladwin translates, “Amongst the qualifications for society, 
it is necessary either that you attend to the concerns of your 
household, or else devote yourself to religion.” This is, no 
doubt, the implied me anin g. Life is compared to an entertain- 
ment, where, if you choose the part of host, you must entertain 
religious men ; or, if you would be a guest, be a religious man 
yourself, and so please the Great Host, that is, God. 

*“ I should wish to read, in the second line of this stanza, 
agar khwdhi, instead of agar d&nl, which 

appears to me to be nonsense. If a man knew that another was 
well disposed to him, he might presume, on that, to say un- 
palatable things ; but if he wished to ingratiate himself, he 
would choose a pleasing subject. 


2 33 

Maxim LXXX. 

Whoso associates with the wicked will be accused of 
following their ways, though their principles may have 
made no impression upon him ; just as if a person were 
in the habit of frequenting taverns, he would not he 
supposed to go there for prayer, but to drink intoxicating 


Thyself thou’lt surely stigmatise, 

In choosing for thy friends th’ unwise. 

I asked a sage for one sound rule ; 

He said, “ Consort not with a fool, 

For this of wise men fools will make. 

And even fools deteriorate.” 

Maxim LXXXI. 

So tractable is the camel that, as is well known, if a 
child took hold of its bridle and led it a hundred para- 
sangs, it would not withdraw its neck from obeying him : 
but if they came to a dangerous road which might cause 
its destruction, and the child, through ignorance, wished 
to go that way, it would wrest the reins from his grasp, 
and would not after that obey him : for, in the time when 
rough dealing is required, kindness is blameable ; and 
they have said : “ An enemy will not become friendly by 
being treated with kindness ; but, on the contrary, his 
avarice will be increased.” 


Thou to the courteous humble be, as dust ; 

But rough to those with whom thou hast a feud ; 307 

A soft file will not cleanse deep-seated rust : 

Then use not gentle language with the rude. 

307 I have translated this line freely. Literally, it is, “ If he 
oppose thee, fill his two eyes with mud.” 


Maxim LXXXII. 

Whoever interrupts the conversation of others to display 
the extent of his wisdom, will assuredly discover the 
depth of his folly : and the wise have said : 


“ Until they him interrogate, 

The prudent man will aye continue mute ; 

For though his words might be sedate, 

Men would to folly the display impute.” 


I had once a sore under my robe. My religious superior 
(on whom be the mercy of God ! ) every day asked me, 
“ How art thou ? ” and he did not inquire, “ On what 
part is thy wound ? ” forbearing, because it is not right 
to mention every member : and the wise have said : 
“ Whoever does not weigh his words, will receive an 
answer that will vex him.” 


Until thou knowest that a speech is sooth. 

Thou shouldest not unclose thy lips to speak : 
Better to be confined for speaking truth 
Than, by false speaking, thy release to seek. 

Maxim LXXXIV. 

The uttering of a falsehood is like a violent blow ; for, 
even should the wound be healed, the scar will remain. 
Thus, when the brothers of J oseph (peace be on him ! ) 
had acquired the character of telling untruths, their words 
were not believed, even when they said that which was 
true. Qod Most High has said, “ But your passions have 
suggested this to you.” m 

*“* Vide Sale’s Kur’an, II. 35. Jacob is speaking. 


2 35 


Wien ’tis one’s habit aye the truth to say, 

A slip is pardoned readily ; 

But should one be renowned the other way, 

Even in his truth we error see. 

Maxim LXXXV. 

The most glorious of created things, in outward form, 
is man ; and the most vile of living things, is a dog ; yet, 
by the unanimous consent of the wise, a grateful dog is 
better than an ungrateful man. 


The scrap thou on a dog bestowest, it — 

Though pelted oft — will yet remember still ; 

But though thro’ life the base thou benefit, 

They for the merest trifle would thee kill. 

Maxim LXXXYI. 

The sensual ne’er can eminence attain ; 

And those who have not merit should not reign. 


Spare not the glutton ox, for know that he 
WTio much devours will also slothful be : 

If thou must needs be fatted like the ox, 

Then like the ass submit to people’s knocks. 


It is said, in the Gospel, 309 “ 0 son of Adam ! if I give 
thee wealth, thou wilt occupy thyself with riches and 

*“ This is probably a quotation from some spurious Gospel. 
Ross refers to Proverbs, chap. xxx. ver. 7, 8, 9, “ Two things 
have I required of thee ; deny me them not before I die : 
Remove far from me vanity and lies : give me neither poverty 
nor riches ; feed me with food convenient for me : Lest I be 
full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ? or lest I be 
poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” 



neglect me; and, if I make thee poor, then thou wilt 
cower down in distress. Wherefore, in what state wilt 
thou find the happiness of praising me? or when wilt thou 
hasten to serve me ? ” 


With riches now thou art too proud, elate ; 

Or sinkest down too low beneath the rod : 

Since this in joy and sorrow is thy state, 

When wilt thou turn from selfishness to God ? 


The will of Him who has no like brings down one man 
from a royal throne, and preserves another in the belly of 
a fish. 


He who parts not from Thy praises will enjoy tranquillity, 
Though — as was the Prophet Jonas — in the fish-maw he 
should be. 

Maxim LXXXIX. 

When God draws the sword of His wrath, prophets 
and saints draw back their heads [in fear of the stroke], 
and if He smile graciously with His eyes. He raises the 
bad to an equality with the good. 


If in judgment He should, wrathful, words severe of 
anger say, 

What pardon e’en for saints were there ? 

Pray Him, therefore, from His mercy’s face the veil to 
take away, 

And free e’en sinners from despair. 

Maxim XC. 

Whoso learns not from this world’s lesson to take the 
right way, will be overtaken by the punishments of the 
next. God Most High has said, “ And we will cause them 


2 37 

to taste the lesser punishment of this world, besides the more 
grievous punishment of the next; peradventure they will 
repent.” 310 


The great admonish first — observant be! 

Lest, if thou heed not words, they shackle thee. 

Those endued with a happy disposition are warned by the 
anecdotes and precedents of former generations, so as not 
to become themselves a warning to those who follow them. 


No bird will settle on the grain, 

That sees another bird already snared ; 

Take warning then from others’ pain. 

Or else to point a moral be prepared. 

Maxim XCI. 

How can one, the ear of whose choice has been made 
heavy, hear? and how can he, who is drawn by the 
noose of happy destiny, decline to proceed . 311 


The dark night of the friends of Heaven 
Shines with the brilliant light of day ; 

Not to man’s might is this rich blessing given, 

It comes from God — no other way. 


To whom, save Thee, shall I complain P Thou only 

Itulest ; and no arm equals thine in might ; 

Guided by Thee, none are e’er lost or lonely ; 

Whom Thou forsakest, none can guide aright. 

310 Vide Kur’an, chap, xxxii. ver. 22; Sale’s Translation, 
p. 311. 

311 This seems to be the doctrine of Predestination. Ross and 

Gladwin both omit to translate the word iradat, and the 

latter omits also saadat. 


Maxim XCII. 

A beggar whose end is blest is better than a king who 
dies miserably. 


Better feel sorrow ere we gladness know, 

Than to be happy and then suffer woe. 

Maxim XCIII. 

The sky supplies the earth with showers, while the 
earth renders back dust. Every vessel allows that to permeate 
through it which it contains . 3ia 


My temper seems unpleasing in thy eyes ; 

Change not for that thy better qualities. 

God Most High sees [our sins], but casts a veil over 
them; and our neighbour blazes abroad [our offences], 
though he sees them not. 


Save us, good Lord ! could men in secret see. 

None were from others’ interference free ! 

Maxim XCIV. 

Gold is procured from the vein by digging the mine, 
and from the miser’s clutches by digging out his mind. 31 * 


Base men enjoy not, and to lonely haunts 
Slink sullen, and they say, “ On hope to feed 

Is better than to gratify one’s wants.” 

One day thou’lt see the victim of his greed 
A corse, — his foes exulting and his money freed . 314 

*” In other words, “ That which exudes from a vessel is of 
the same nature as its contents.” Our proverb is, “ You cannot 
make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” 

* IS ^ A '£ jdn kandan, means, literally, “ to dig out the 

soul,” and is generally applied to the agonies of death. 

*“ That is, from his clutches. 



Maxim XCV. 

Whoso shews no compassion to the weak will suffer from 
the violence of the strong. 


Not every arm that is of might possessed, 

Can crush the poor or ruin the distressed : 

Grieve not the feeble, lest in turn thou, too, 

Th’ oppressor’s power and injustice rue. 

Maxim XCVI. 

The prudent man, when he beholds contention arising, 
steps aside ; and when he sees that peace prevails, casts 
anchor there : for, in the one case, safety lies in with- 
drawing, and, in the other, he is assured of tranquillity. 

Maxim XCVII. 

The gamester wants three sixes, but three aces turn up. 

Far better is the pasture than the plain 315 
But the horse guides not for himself the rein. 

Maxim XCYIII. 

A darwesh said in his prayers, “ 0 God ! have mercy 
on the wicked, for Thou hast already had mercy on the 
good, in that Thou hast created them good ! ” 

Maxim XCIX. 

The first person who introduced distinctions of dress, 
and the habit of wearing rings on the finger, was 
Jamshld. 316 They asked him, Why he had conferred all 
these ornaments on the left arm, while the right was the 
more excellent? He replied, “The right arm is com- 
pletely adorned in being the right.” 

s “ mat dan, “plain,” is used for the “ parade-ground,” 

“place of exercise,” “battle-field.” 

*“ An ancient king of Persia, being the fourth monarch of 
the first or Pishdadyan dynasty. He built Istakhar or Persepolis, 
and was dethroned by Zahhak. 

24 ° 



Said Farldun to China’s men of art, 

“ Round my pavilion’s walls embroider this, — 

‘ If thou art wise, to bad men good impart ; 

The good enough of honour have and bliss.’ ” 

Maxim C. 

They asked an eminent personage why, when the right 
hand was so superior to the left, men were in the habit of 
placing the signet-ring on the left hand ? He rejoined, 
“ Knowest thou not that merit is always neglected ? ” 


He from whom fate, subsistence, fortunes spring, 
Now makes a man of merit, now a king. 

Maxim CL 

He may advise kings safely who has neither fear for 
his head nor cupidity. 


Whether thou money at his feet dost spread, 

Who truly worships God ; or o’er his head 
Wavest the Indian scymitar ; no dread 
Has he of mortal man : in this 
True faith consists, — this orthodoxy is, 

Maxim CII. 

A king is for the coercion of oppressors, and the 
superintendent of police to repress murder, and the judge 
for hearing complaints against thieves. Two parties, 
whose aim is justice only, never refer matters to the 


Art thou assured that thou must justice do — 

Then better do it gently, without strife. 

Who pay not taxes willingly, will rue 
The law’s exactions, and the misproud crew 
Of insolent officials. Stubbornness is rife 
With a twin evil — shame and damage too. 



Maxim CIII. 

All men’s teeth are blunted by sour things except the 
judge’s, whose edge is taken off by sweets. 


The judge five cucumbers as a bribe will take, 

And grant ten beds of melons for their sake. 

Maxim CIV. 

What can an old prostitute do but vow not to sin any 
more ? or a superintendent of police discharged from 
office, except promise not to cease from injustice ? 


He leads the hermit’s life, who chooses it 
In youth ; for age cannot its corner quit. 

Maxim CV. 

They asked a philosopher, Why, when God Most High 
had created so many famous fruitful trees, the cypress 
alone was called free, which bore no fruit ? and what 
was the meaning of this ? He replied, “ Every tree has 
its appointed time and season, so that, during the said 
season, it flourishes ; and when that is past, it droops. 
But the cypress is not exposed to either of these vicissi- 
tudes, and is at all times fresh and green ; and this is the 
condition of the free.” 


Place not thy heart on transitory things. 

Long shall the Tigris on by Baghdad flow, 

When all the glory of the Caliph kings 

Has passed away. Be, if thou canst be so, 

Like the date, generous. Canst thou nought bestow 
From lack of means ; at least resolve to be, 

Like the green cypress, fetterless and free. 




Maxim CYI. 

Two persons die remorseful ; he who possessed and 
enjoyed not, and he who knew but did not practise. 


A miser may have merit ; yet none see 
His face, but strive his actions to abuse : 

While twice a hundred failings there may be, 

In those who do a liberal conduct use ; 

Yet will their generosity those faults excuse. 


The book of the Gulistan is ended by the assistance of 
God. Throughout the work I have forborne to borrow 
ornaments from the verses of preceding poets, as is 
customary with authors. 


Better patch up one’s own old garment, than 
Borrow the raiment of another man. 

For the most part, Sadi’s discourse is commingled with 
pleasantry and cheerful wit ; and this furnishes a pretext 
to the shortsighted for saying that it is not the part of 


2 43 

wise men to rack the brain with absurdities, or expend 
the midnight oil unprofitably. It is, however, not con- 
cealed from the clear minds of the really enlightened, for 
whom this discourse is intended, that the pearls of salutary 
counsel are strung on the thread of my diction, and the 
bitter medicine of advice mixed up in it with the honey 
of mirthful humour ; lest the mind of the reader should 
be disgusted, and he should thus remain excluded from 
the beneficial acceptance of my words. 


I have fulfilled my mission, and have given 
Wholesome advice : my life’s endeavour this. 

What though men hear not. Messengers of Heaven 
Can but discharge their duty : and it is 
To tell their message — point the way to bliss. 

Reader ! for him who wrote this book, ask grace ; 
And let- the scribe, too, in thy prayers find place : 
Next for thyself whate’er thou wishest pray ; 
Lastly, a blessing for the owner say. 

Bv aid of the all-gracious king, 

This work here to ail end we bring.